It looks like the Cincinnati Bengals don't feel too confident about the health of their cornerback unit.
That would explain the addition of cornerback Tony McRae, who the team announced had been signed on Tuesday. McRae is a rookie free agent who went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft.
McRae, a 5'9" 172-pound corner, played four seasons (2012-15) at North Carolina A&T and was a first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection as a senior. ESPN had McRae pegged as the 85th-best cornerback prospect entering the 2016 NFL Draft.
To be fair, it’s hard to even find enough college film to properly evaluate FCS prospects. We see guys come out of this division to make 53-man rosters and even turn into quality NFL players.
In 2014, McRae started all 12 games and made 62 total tackles with 46 of those unassisted. He also made five interceptions and had 16 passes defended. He also returned 14 kickoffs for 360 yards (25.7 per return) and a touchdown, so the return game could be where he makes an impact as well.
In 2015, teams threw at McRae far less as he finished with only one interception. He did lead the Aggies with 55 tackles as a senior and also averaged 28.3 yards on kickoff returns.
For his career, McRae appeared in 46 games over four years at NC A&T. He totaled 153 tackles (112 solo), nine interceptions and 27 passes defended.
Watching his highlights, McRae has a little Adam Jones to his game in that he's solid in coverage while staying in his guy's back pocket, not to mention he's a hard hitter in the run game while also producing some explosive punt and kickoff returns.
(Warning: Music in this video contains NSFW language)
According to Christian Shanafelt of NFL Draft Bible, the Bengals were present for McRae's Pro Day and even met with him following his workout.
He broke into the NFL after the Oakland Raiders signed him as a college free agent following the 2016 draft, but was released on May 16.
Since then, McRae has been waiting for another team to sign him. While he needed to wait for almost three months, this is about as ideal of a situation as McRae could ask for. He's already in a great spot to get plenty of practice reps this week with several corners dealing with injuries.
But the injury that this signing may be related to is that of Darqueze Dennard. The third-year corner left last Monday's session due to an ankle sprain, which has held him out every practice since then.
Initially, head coach Marvin Lewis said that Dennard should only miss a week of action, but we're now over that mark as it looks like the oft-injured corner won't suit up for Friday's preseason opener vs the Vikings.
If that ends up being the case, we may very well see a lot of McRae in his first preseason game.