Bengals Roster: Realistic expectations for DJ Turner in 2023

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back DJ Turner II leaps to catch a pass as he participates in drills
Cincinnati Bengals defensive back DJ Turner II leaps to catch a pass as he participates in drills / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

With their second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected DJ Turner out of Michigan. It marked the second straight year that they spent a high draft pick on a defensive back out of Michigan, with Dax Hill being taken in the first round of the previous year.

The Bengals spent their first-round pick in this year's draft on Myles Murphy and then stuck to the defensive side of the ball when they nabbed Turner in round two. The Michigan cornerback was likely insurance for the team, as they suffered injuries at cornerback during the 2022 season, most notably Chidobe Awuzie. He's also blazing fast, as evidenced by his 4.26 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Speaking of Awuzie, he's entering the final year of his contract, as is Mike Hilton, so the Bengals are continuing to add players at positions that could lose a key player to free agency the following year. Cornerback fits into that category.

What should Bengals fans expect from DJ Turner in 2023?

Turner should see plenty of playing time as a rookie, especially if injuries pile up. Even if they don't, he projects as the backup to second-year corner Cam Taylor-Britt. The other two starting corners will be Awuzie and Hilton. All three starters got knicked up at some point during the 2022 season so injuries can't be ruled out.

The hope is that Turner gets his feet wet during his rookie season enough to where he can step in and transition into a starter in 2024. This year, the expectation for him is to be on the field in certain packages and being the next-man-up when called upon.

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The Bengals have been smart to draft with the following year's free agency in mind and this is another example of them planning ahead. If Awuzie either isn't as effective this year or he signs elsewhere in 2024, the Bengals will have Turner as his replacement.