The Cincinnati Bengals were looking to bring in more playmaking to their defense in the draft, and they were able to do just that with the 24th overall pick. Cincinnati selected cornerback Darqueze Dennard with their first round pick, and he is expected to be a perfect fit with their aggressive defense. So the question becomes, what type of impact with Dennard have on the Cincinnati defense?
He is an extremely solid all-around player, and has the ability to fill a lot of holes for the Bengals’ defense. His ability to play aggressive fits exactly what Cincinnati’s defense is about, and he will add to the playmaking aspect of the game especially. At this point, he is much better suited to play press man coverage because of his ability to be physical and redirect his opposing wide receivers.
All that being said, Dennard is more than capable of sitting back into a zone defense as well and reading plays. He’s not a very big cornerback, but he is an above-average tackler and can lay a big hit from time to time. There is no denying his potential to become a very special defensive back at the NFL level, but he does have a lot of work to do with his new coaching staff.
Dennard does have some flaws in his game that could hurt him, but they are mostly fixable. One of his main issues is that when he does overplay in coverage, he has a habit of grabbing the opposing receiver and holding him back. Those calls will not be missed in the NFL, and he could be looking at a very rough rookie season as far as getting called for defensive holding and pass interference. Another issue is that he is not all that good at attacking the ball in the air against a receiver. He’ll need to work on those couple issues to take the next step in his career.
The Bengals are trying to make a run in the playoffs, and they desperately need to improve their defense in order to make that happen. They have good pass rushers and a couple good defensive backs, but the selection of Dennard could be a big one in the grand scheme of things. He has “star” playmaker potential written all over him, but it will take a lot of hard work and good coaching to help him reach his full potential.