When the Cincinnati Bengals selected Josh Malone in Round 4 of the 2017 NFL Draft, it came as somewhat of a surprise. The team had spent a Round 1 selection on the wide receiver position by selecting John Ross and he and Malone have one very important thing in common: speed.
CJ: What do you think of the Bengals' selection of Josh Malone in Round 4? Is that about where you were expecting him to be drafted?
TL: Round 4 is exactly where I had him slotted. He's a big body that can run, so I didn't think it would take long for him to come off of the board on day three.
CJ: His speed suggests he'd be good in the slot, but, he hardly played in the slot in college. What do you think would be a good role for him in the NFL?
TL: I think you want his size and speed on the outside in the NFL. He's a guy that can take the top off of the defense, so mixing him in the gameplan with John Ross and A.J. Green could be very stressful to opposing defenses.
CJ: Off-the-field, is there anything relevant to note... Is he funny? Smart? Anything he was known for in college?
TL: He was Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee coming out of high school. Finance major. Pretty quiet guy off-the-field, which is always a good thing for a college kid.
CJ: What are his greatest strengths?
TL: Malone is a size and speed guy. 6-foot-3 with 4.40 speed probably shifted him up a round or two after a rather pedestrian career in Knoxville. From the moment he stepped onto campus as a true freshman, he was the deep ball guy. His final season, you saw him take steps forward and convert a lot more of those opportunities. He became a difference maker.
CJ: How about any weaknesses?
TL: He needs to win more consistently in contested situations. Like I said above, he took strides in this area as a junior, but his freshman and sophomore seasons -- he left some meat on the bone. I don't think he's all that great of a route runner yet. The offense certainly wasn't receiver friendly either. He's a bit of a project, but the tools are certainly there.
CJ: Did he have any injuries of note while in college?
TL: No injuries at all. Played in 13 games in each of his 3 years as a Vol. I hope we didn't just jinx him!
CJ: Do you think he'll be ready to play at the NFL level right away?
TL: I think he's a role player right off the bat. He's probably a nice WR4 to start his career, giving Green or LaFell as a break when they need one. He's definitely a guy that can grow into a nice piece opposite of Green going forward.
CJ: Anything else you think Bengals fans would be interested to know?
TL: Malone is a former five star recruit and one of Butch Jones' biggest additions. I think he's got immense untapped talent -- as you kind of saw him show this past year. Personally, I think the offense and an inconsistent Josh Dobbs held him back. I'm excited to see him learn from A.J. going forward. I think the Bengals have a nice piece to work with here.