We continue our breakdown of the Cincinnati Bengals’ draft class and their rookie contracts with Jordan Evans and J.J. Dielman up next.
Drafted in Round 5 with the 176th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Dielman fits the mold of offensive linemen the Bengals prefer in that he's very versatile and provides depth at multiple spots. That will hopefully help keep him in Cincinnati for the duration of his rookie deal, which is a four-year deal worth up to $2,601,937.
According to Spotrac, Dielman will make $515,484 in 2017 and heave a dead cap hit of $201,937 if released.
Dielman was a starting center and team captain for the Utah Utes in 2016 after starting all 26 games in 2014 and 2015 at the right tackle spot. However, Dielman only appeared in five games last season before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. That injury helped lead to Dielman falling into Day 3 of the draft. He also didn’t take part in Bengals OTAs while still recovering from that injury.
It’s also unclear what position Dielman will play in the NFL, but the kind of versatility he possesses is something the Bengals love. Dielman has little chance of taking Russell Bodine’s starting center spot this year, but Bodine hits free agency in 2018. Having Dielman can be insurance in case Bodine goes elsewhere, while also giving Cincinnati depth across the offensive line in 2017.
As for Evans, the 193rd overall pick was a do-it-all linebacker during his Oklahoma career. Last season Evans record 98 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four interceptions, eight pass deflections and one forced fumble in 13 games. He was regarded as one of the best coverage linebackers in this year’s draft, something the Bengals needed upgrading at since Vontaze Burfict is the only consistent backer in this regard.
According to Spotrac, Evans is signed to a four-year deal worth up to $2,556,506. He will make $504,126 in 2017 and have a dead cap hit of $156,506 if released.
While linebacker wasn’t viewed as a major need coming into the NFL Draft, the Bengals were still smart to bolster their depth with Evans. In 2018, we could see Marquis Flowers, Vontaze Burfict and Kevin Minter all leave town as they hit free agency.
But first thing’s first: Evans has to make the final roster this year to assure he’s able to compete for a bigger role in 2018. He’ll challenge Flowers, P.J. Dawson and Bryson Albright for a roster spot this season, assuming Burfict, Minter, Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey and fourth-round hybrid backer/defensive end Carl Lawson have their spots locked in. That would leave one or two spots for Evans to make it onto the final roster.
All said, I see both Evans and Dielman making the final roster in 2017. The Bengals go out of their way to keep all of their rookie draft picks, and both Evans and Dielman have long-term value with this franchise.