POSITION(6): Tony Dye, George Iloka, Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles, Reggie Nelson, Shawn Williams
Shawn Williams (3rd round pick, Georgia)
Reggie Nelson is probably a lock at free safety with a group of potential players expected to compete at strong safety.
Shawn Williams, a dominant force out of Georgia, appears to be the logical front-runner. Taylor Mays, a former second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers, is a powerful run supporter but questionable in coverage. Acquired by Cincinnati in a 2011 preseason trade, Mays saw action in 2012 with three starts on defense and strong participation on special teams. Played in 10 games in 2011 and had six starts at safety with 49ers as a rookie in 2010, and had 31 tackles, a forced fumble, and a TD on a blocked punt recovery.
Jeromy Miles, a special teams ace during first two seasons (2010-11), saw more action on defense in 2012 posting a career-best 15 tackles on defense. After leading the team in tackles in 2011, Miles generated 15 tackles on special teams in 2012, second-best on the team, earning the coaches’ "special-teamer" designation on Pro Bowl fan ballot.
Tony Dye looks for first Bengals action in 2013 after missing last year’s rookie season due to injury. George IIoka was a fifth-round choice in 2012 draft played in seven games as rookie. He contributed for the Bengals in 2012 after logging 232 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, seven INTs and 17 passes defensed in college.
We hope the Bengals have found their guy in draft pick Shawn Williams. They chose not to resign Chris Crocker this offseason and look to be putting their eggs in the basket of either Williams or Taylor Mays. However, they took the same approach last year and ended up signing Crocker anyway. All I know is the Bengals need better production from the strong safety position this season.