When the Bengals re-signed George Iloka to a new, 5-year contract, the safety position went from being one of the biggest needs on the team to a mid-level need at best. Losing Reggie Nelson doesn't help, but some impressive performances from Shawn Williams in 2015 indicate the Bengals aren't in the market for a starter at the position. However, they do seem to be taking a strong look at potential depth players like Kavon Frazier of Central Michigan, who they worked out a few weeks ago, according to NFL.com.
At the Central Michigan Pro Day, Frazier performed fairly well. A 40.5" vertical jump, 10'8" broad jump, 6.96 second three cone drill, 4.29 second short shuttle, and 4.52 second 40-yard dash displayed his athleticism to every team in attendance.
Frazier went through his positional drills with a Bengals defensive backs coach and only dropped a single ball. It had to have really struck a cord with the Bengals, who are likely to be looking at safety depth in the draft.
Floyd Raven Sr, Derron Smith, and Taylor Mays look like the Bengals' only depth at the safety position right now, assuming the starters are Shawn Williams and George Iloka, and Mays still is not officially signed. Although Smith was considered one of the biggest steals in last year's draft, the rest of the depth could use some work. Picking Frazier late in the draft would fill a need and provide some necessary competition at safety going forward.
One aspect that could particularly appeal to the Bengals is Frazier's ability to contribute on special teams. He's been known to block punts and his downhill pursuit ability makes him the ideal guy to chase down someone like Antonio Brown or Tramon Williams on a kick return. The Bengals have always been known to value young players who can contribute on special teams, but all the roster turnover this season could cause it to really turn this into a significant area of need.
Shawn Williams has been one of the most consistent special teams contributors over the last few years for the Bengals while patiently waiting for his chance to start at safety. If he truly is the team's starting safety next year, they will likely not want him to spend as much time on specials teams, accumulating the bodily stress that goes along with it. What better way to replace a strong special teams player than with another strong special teams player?
The major drawback with Frazier involves his generally unrefined play. Instincts, angles, and reading a quarterback's eyes are all aspects that need significant work if he wants to make an impact in the NFL. However, coaches will recognize his potential. He might fall to the sixth or even seventh round, but it seems pretty likely that a team will take a flyer on the guy.
Frazier is arguably one of the only draftable prospects out of Central Michigan this year. He has the ideal height and size for an NFL safety with the athleticism to back it up. His ability to stop and start with ease in coverage combined with his downhill tenacity in the run was a big reason why Central Michigan made an appearance in the 2015 Quick Lane Bowl. He reminds some scouts of Barry Church, but his size, physicality, and general skill set also remind me quite a lot of Shawn Williams coming out of college.