The Bengals made it down to Tallahassee for the Florida State Seminoles’ pro day.
There, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin got an up-close look at All-American safety Derwin James, who is considered one of the top defensive prospects in this year’s draft.
Derwin James having a pre-pro day chat with #Bengals DC Teryl Austin. pic.twitter.com/g33iRhUx7W— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 20, 2018
The star safety from Florida State is regarded as one of the top defenders in this year’s draft, and he’s someone who could be great value at the No. 12 pick.
As a junior in 2017, James racked up 84 tackles, two interceptions and one defensive touchdown. He also deflected 11 passes.
James will also make as many plays in the backfield as a linebacker would. He finished this past season with 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Being able to be a physical safety that can line up at the line of scrimmage or play deep safety is something that makes James stand out in this draft.
But while the Bengals would probably love to have James, it’s hard to see him falling all the way to the No. 21 pick in Round 1, which is where the Bengals are now after swapping picks with the Bills for Cordy Glenn.
The good news is Florida State has plenty of NFL talent, which is probably why the Bengals also sent defensive line coach Jacob Burney to the pro day. He was probably there to get an up-close look at defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
The 6’1”, 300-pound Nnadi finished 2017 with 56 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 13 starts. He’s more of a run-stuffer that would be great to pair with Geno Atkins, but Nnadi is also able to play the three-technique. He’s projected to drafted in the Round 2-4 range.
Another potential defensive line prospect to watch for is Josh Sweat. The 6’4”, 252-pound edge defender is probably best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, but he could be a situational pass-rusher at defensive end early in his career.
As a sophomore in 2016, Sweat recorded 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 12 games. in 2017, he posted 56 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 12 games before declaring for the draft. He too is projected to go in the Round 2-4 range. The Bengals were reportedly checking him out during the pro day.