The Bengals' selection of Illinois safety Clayton Fedejelem in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft made a lot of sense. While Taylor Mays figures to be the team's fourth safety once he returns from suspension, the Bengals only had four true and proven safeties on the roster prior to the NFL Draft.
The Bengals waited longer than many thought they would to select a safety in the Draft, but the pick came late on Saturday afternoon and wasn't too big of a surprise as the Bengals had met with Fejedelem at the Shrine Game and attended his Pro Day.
Pro Football Focus loved Fejedelem in college; he graded very well in pass and run coverage, thanks to 49 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, three interceptions and six pass deflections. In fact, PFF had Fejedelem graded as a sixth-round safety due to his ability to stop the run. Fej "made a stop in the run game on 8.6 percent of his snaps, better than any of the top safeties in the class," per PFF's Draft Guide.
Weight: 200 pounds
Pro Day numbers: 40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds; Bench press: 20 reps; Vertical jump: 40.5 inches
As a rookie seventh-round pick, Fejedelem is now signed to a four-year deal with the Bengals. Per Over the Cap, the total value of the safety's contract is $2,403,552 with an average of $600,888 per year. That's pretty good for a guy who was once a walk-on at Illinois.
Stock in 2016
Fedelem made up for not being invited to the NFL Combine by impressing with Pro Day numbers that were better than most of his competition at safety. His 40-yard dash would've tied for fourth place among safeties at the Combine, his 20 reps on the bench press would've ranked third among all defensive backs and his vertical jump would've ranked tied for seventh among all Combine performers, regardless of position.
At best, Fejedelem will be the Bengals' third or fourth safety on the depth chart. At worst, he'll be one of the most talented players on the team's practice squad or will be poached by another team in need of an additional safety.
Odds of making the roster
The Bengals current safety roster includes starters George Iloka and Shawn Williams as well as Mays, Floyd Raven, and 2015 Draft pick Derron Smith. With Mays out for the first four weeks of 2016 due to a suspension, Fejedelem figures to start the season on the Bengals' 53-man roster. The only way the Bengals would potentially consider otherwise would be if they figure Josh Shaw is capable of playing both corner and safety and consider Fejedelem a roster casualty in order to maintain space for an additional player--most likely a sixth defensive tackle or seventh wide receiver. Shaw has been practicing at safety this offseason. If Fejedelem doesn't make the roster, he will be a lock for the practice squad, assuming he doesn't get snatched away and make another team's 53-man roster.