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Bengals’ Clayton Fejedelem ranked among NFL’s top 20 safeties

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Fejedelem quietly had a nice season with the Bengals.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals got a steal in Clayton Fejedelem.

That’s become pretty obvious during his two-year stint with the Bengals, as the former seventh-round pick has become a key contributor on defense and special teams. After being relegated to mostly special teams in 2016 as a rookie, Fejedelem stepped into a bigger role in the defense last season.

He appeared in all 16 games while making five starts at safety, filling in for Shawn Williams when he was out of the lineup. He finished the season with 57 total tackles, two pass deflections and one interception.

For his efforts, Fejedelem was tabbed the 19th-best free safety by the Bleacher Report 1000.

19. Clayton Fejedelem, Cincinnati Bengals

Coverage: 20/30

Recovery: 19/30

Slot Performance: 5/10

Tackling: 17/20

Position Value: 8/10

Overall Grade: 69/100

Fejedelem filled in admirably when called upon. For as much space as he covered, his mere three missed tackles comprised quite the feat. For the most part, he was under control while closing on ball-carriers and finished plays. He also held his own in man coverage. Fejedelem would bite on play action or take poor angles, though. That was his downfall during an otherwise solid season.

While 19 seems low since there’s just 32 NFL teams, it’s actually a good spot since the ranking includes 45 different free safeties, so Fejedelem was better than over half of the free safeties who played significant snaps in the 2017 season. That includes fellow Bengals safety Josh Shaw, who was ranked 36th.

Fejedelem was part of a Bengals secondary that helped the team finish eighth in passing defense and tied for third in yards per pass allowed this past season.

It’s great that the Bengals have a third safety they can rely on whenever Williams or George Iloka are out of the lineup. Both players are under contract for three more seasons, so it’s unlikely they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

Even so, Fejedelem has shown he can be a valuable member of this team, as seen throughout the 2017 season. Hopefully he continues to develop and grow as a player, while proving the Bengals found a late-round steal in the former Illinois safety.