Following the recent departure of Reggie Nelson to the Oakland Raiders, free safety depth has become a major area of need for the Bengals. At the moment, Shawn Williams is expected to step into the starting role with Derron Smith, Floyd Raven, and Taylor Mays being the only players competing for both the free and strong safety backup roles.
One NFL prospect who the Bengals are looking at is Sean Davis, a free safety out of Maryland who Walter Football has reported had "some type of meeting" with the Bengals.
It would be a good idea for the Bengals to find some late round talent to compete for the second or even third spot at the position. They managed to get Derron Smith in the sixth round last year, despite being talented enough to be projected as a second or third round pick. However, at 5'10" there are a ton of questions about his ability to actually produce at the level he is capable of against NFL-sized receivers.
If the Bengals want to add more competition in the defensive backfield for insurance in case Mays, Smith, or Raven don't work out, Davis could be a great value pick. At 6'1" and 201 pounds, he has the ideal size and shape for an NFL safety. Scouts love his incredible physique as well as his ability to control his game mentally and not let a poor performance here and there turn into a consistent problem. In terms of physicality, he reminds you a bit of Shawn Williams in that he loves laying down the big hits and making ball carriers pay for thinking they can best him. He's also versatile enough to play cornerback if needed, which could be considered another depth need this year.
Unfortunately for Davis, he's not particularly good in man coverage. He excels when asked to close down on a ball carrier and knock the ball out, but isn't going to knock down or get in the way of enough passes to really impress NFL coaches. He struggles with double moves by receivers and tends to be easily beaten, so you can imagine why NFL teams might be wary of taking a chance on his top-end physique.
However, if he's available for the Bengals in the fifth or sixth round, they may give him a shot. Given his coverage struggles, they'll likely want to stick him on the practice squad for a year or two while they give guys like Smith, Mays, and Raven a shot. But, the risk/reward factor is great.
Ultimately, Davis' struggles in man coverage are an issue that can be worked on and developed. However, certain aspects of the kind of size and level of physique that he brings to the table are much harder to improve. Other aspects such as his ideal height and love for punishing ball carriers are just things that come naturally.
If Davis can improve the technical aspects of his game, he could end up being one of the better safeties in the league. However, that's only going to come with time, so only a team with a solid and stable roster that can afford to invest the time he needs. Luckily, the Bengals are just the kind of team that can afford to be patient with a player like Davis while he develops.