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Approval Poll: Bengals shore up DE depth with Chris Smith

Were the Bengals smart to trade for a backup pass-rusher?

The Cincinnati Bengals added some depth at defensive end in the form of Chris Smith.

Cincinnati sent a conditional 2018 seventh round NFL Draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Smith, who has been a backup defensive end for the bulk of his three-year NFL career. The compensation for Smith can likely be increased or canceled out completely based on whether Smith makes the 2017 roster and how much he plays.

Smith was a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft, but never quite fit into Jacksonville’s defense as a LEO, which is essentially a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end. The 6’1”, 262-pound Smith isn’t quite big enough to be a true defensive end in the NFL, but he’s not athletic and agile enough to be a linebacker either. That’s part of why Smith has played in just 19 games through his first three years in the NFL and compiled just 4.5 sacks, 16 tackles, and one forced fumble.

However, Smith already has as many sacks as current Bengals defensive end Will Clarke, who needed 35 games to get to 4.5 sacks, whereas Smith needed just 19. It’s hard to say how good Smith really is since he only played 69 snaps this past season and just 154 in 2015.

That said, the Bengals badly needed an experienced end to add to what’s easily the weakest and thinnest position on the roster. After Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap, it’s the aging Michael Johnson and Wallace Gilberry to go with Clarke, so Smith has a good shot at making next year’s roster as of right now.

It’s possible that Smith is the third-best pass-rusher behind only Dunlap and Johnson. That’s how weak this position is right now, so adding Smith feels like a much bigger addition than it really is.

Perhaps the best thing this move does is it helps Cincinnati not be forced into drafting a defensive end early in this draft. If the best one on the board isn’t worthy of the No. 9 or 41 picks, having Smith helps the Bengals not have to reach for one.

We’ve talked at nauseum about Derek Barnett and Taco Charlton at No. 9, but they both seem like reaches there. Now that Cincinnati has some depth here, they won’t have to take one of those two unless they truly feel one of those prospects is worthy of a top-10 selection.


Do you agree with the Bengals’ decision of trading for Chris Smith?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    (1156 votes)
  • 13%
    No. He’s not even worth a seventh-round pick.
    (235 votes)
  • 19%
    What’s Robert Geathers up to?
    (339 votes)
1730 votes total Vote Now