When the NFL draft began Thursday night, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard was listed inside the top-ten on Cincinnati's draft board -- most likely viewing him as the best cornerback in the 2014 NFL draft.
Another great slide for @Bengals. Dennard was in top 10 on their board— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) May 9, 2014
Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph favorably compares Dennard to Leon Hall, who "does it the right way", a master technician (which characterizes Hall). It was when the Bengals hosted Dennard for a workout that the comparison was really showed.
They liked him. They liked him a lot.
Worried that Dennard would be taken early, the Bengals contemplated trade offers. There was some bantering in the team's war room. Ultimately they elected to stay put.
Lewis says Bengals had trade offers but wanted to keep picks— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) May 9, 2014
The anxiety mounted. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert was the first cornerback taken, by Cleveland who swapped first-round picks with the Minnesota Vikings to obtain him. Six picks later, the Chicago Bears snagged Virginia Tech cornerback at No. 14. In the meantime, AFC North powerhouses in Baltimore and Pittsburgh upgraded their linebacker position with C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier respectively.
Dennard. Still there.
Cornerback went on a power outage for the next nine picks after Fuller, until the Bengals were still on the clock. Cincinnati didn't waste time, submitting their pick.
Dennard didn't make the trip so he didn't have his photographic moment with Roger Goodell. He got the call in Georgia... a day after hosting a charity event for kids in his community on Wednesday.
The selection, viewed as a steal by many, bolsters a secondary that includes five first-round cornerbacks: Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and now Dennard. Add Reggie Nelson at safety and Cincinnati features six first-rounders in the secondary. He will have strong mentors. This team is loaded with them. Go ahead Cleveland. Enjoy Johnny Manziel. This defense isn't anything he's seen before.
If the opposing team starts three-wide, Dennard could start, moving Leon Hall over the slot with Terence Newman or Aam Jones out wide. Most likely Jones will join Hall and Newman as the team's starters early in the season, but why not Dennard?
Joseph: he's in the mix to start. Why not?— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) May 9, 2014
Strong pick for the Bengals. Very strong. And they know it.