One of the biggest steals Cincinnati got in this year's NFL Draft was Fresno State safety Derron Smith.
Regarded as one of the top safety prospects, Smith was projected to go anywhere between the second and fourth rounds. He ultimately fell to the Bengals near the end of the sixth round, and now he's showing flashes of why he should have gone sooner.
During OTAs, Smith has consistently been praised by coaches and media alike for how he's performed. Earlier in the week, Geoff Hobson wrote how Smith and fellow rookie DB Josh Shaw were two of the most impressive Bengals during spring workouts.
The two drafted players that have shown up the most appear to be West Coast roommates, sixth-round safety Derron Smith of Fresno State and fourth-round cornerback Josh Shaw of USC. Smith has impressed with his ability to be in the right place at the right time and Shaw has been a physical presence as a 200-pounder who has been playing the slot as well as outside.
Co-defensive backs coach Vance Joseph noted how Smith's four years of starting experience in college has helped him adjust to the NFL game quicker than most.
"He was a four-year starter at Fresno State so he has played a bunch of football," Jospeh said, via Cincinnati.com You can kind of tell that when you watch him play. He has great savvy for the game. He's very, very smart, a quick runner. He's going to help us."
Though Smith drew favorable reviews for how he performed in Bengals OTAs, how it translates into training camp will determine if he even make the 53-man roster. Safety isn't exactly a thin position, and you can't assume a player even as talented as Smith makes the final roster.
George Iloka and Reggie Nelson have spots locked up, and it appears Shawn Williams does too with as much praise as he's drawn this offseason from the coaches as well. Shiloh Keo is no slouch with starting experience in Houston under his belt in addition to being a solid special teams player.
Smith needs to keep up his play in Training Camp and into the preseason to secure his roster spot, but thus far, he's made a great impression, which will certainly help his cause.