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Taco Charlton talks Bengals, Carlos Dunlap at NFL Combine

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The Columbus, Ohio native says he didn’t favor a pro team growing up. But, he has received comparisons to Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton has been frequently linked to the Cincinnati Bengals in the early NFL Draft season.

The Columbus, Ohio native fits the size and mold of what the Bengals typically seek in a defensive end, but, his connections to Cincinnati go further. Michigan’s defensive line coach, Greg Mattison, was the Florida Gators defensive line coach when Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap was a Gator.

“Coach Mattison was actually my D-line coach, coached Dunlap at Florida,” Charlton said at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “So, I studied his game just because we had the same coach, and he always talks about how I remind me of Dunlap when he was a Florida. So, like I say, I watched his game. He never stops. He's a relentless pass rusher. He uses leverage. So, like I said, I watched them guys at Cincinnati also.”

But, while Charlton is from Columbus he’s not a Bengals... or Browns fan. But, he does watch some Bengals games and studies Bengals players.

“I grew up in Columbus. We don't really have a pro team,” Charlton said. “Our pro team is the Buckeyes even though I'm a Michigan guy. So, that was our pro team and I grew up rooting for them. I didn't grow up with a pro team.”

As for the current NFL players who Charlton has been watching, Dunlap is among them.

“I'm a guy who -- well, yesterday I was 6-5 and five-eighths, so I didn't get to 6-6 -- but I'm a 6-6 guy, big and strong. So, I study a lot of guys that got that similar body type. Guys like Carlos Dunlap, guys with that similar body size that learn how to use their leverage and use their long arms,” Charlton said. “I studied them just to see how I can use my body. And then I studied the Justin Houstons, the Tamba Halis just because the way they use their hands is almost an artwork. And pass rush to me is an artwork a little bit. So, I studied a lot of game film of a lot of different guys to see what I can do.”

Charlton was specifically asked to speak about the Bengals and how they like “big guys” like him at the Combine.

“It's always good when you've got a big guy that can hold the edge and pass rush,” he said. “When you're tall and got long arms, you've got good leverage. So, some teams I do see tend to like them type of guys, which benefits me a lot just because I'm a bigger type of guy like that.”

At the Combine, Charlton ran a 4.92 second 40-yard dash, completed 25 reps in the bench press, had a 33" vertical jump and a 9’8" broad jump. He believes his versatility, something the Bengals covet, will help him in the NFL and is a reason why teams should jump at drafting him.

“I mean, you watch my last two games and that'll show you right there,” Charlton said. “I'm a versatile player, I'm a guy who's played a lot of different positions. I have size, skill and speed, so adding all three of those combinations is something I'm able to do on the football field as well is something that team may like. And also the fact that I'm just touching the peak of my potential. So, I'm only going to get better the more football I play, so the player you get now is going to be a way better player in the future.”