The Bengals have happy thus far with the performance of first-round pick Darqueze Dennard. Though it's only OTAs with no pads and light contact, Dennard has impressed them with how well he's transitioning to the NFL.
"I’m not surprised," DBs coach Vance Joseph said of the ease of the transition. "He’s not a normal rookie, a wide-eyed guy. His mistakes have been minimal and the ones he’s made he’s making corrections. Blitzing will be key because he can cover."
Blitzing off the edge is something Bengals cornerbacks never seemed to do well under Mike Zimmer. He usually had to bring a safety like Chris Crocker or Reggie Nelson down to play corner on downs he wanted to bring pressure from a defensive back.
If Dennard can do that at slot cornerback, it will only bring an added dimension to an already great Bengals defense.
"He’s smart, he’s mature. I wouldn’t hesitate putting him in there," Joseph said. "He understands the run fits and the pressure packages and obviously he can match up in the slot coverage wise. So if he can learn it mentally and becomes a good blitzer, he’ll be fine for the nickel.
"He’s got the speed and the power to be a good blitzer. He’s got an explosive body so I knew the way he moved laterally he could match those slot receivers. He’s a big, strong guy that can tackle in the box."
All of this comes despite the fact that Dennard has yet to sign his rookie contract. Hopefully, the Bengals and Dennard's agent get that taken care of before the end of OTAs.