The Bengals kept their pro day tour going strong by making a visit to Texas.
The representative that was sent was linebackers coach Jim Haslett, which gives us an idea as to who the Bengals are interested in. In fact, Haslett was able to run some drills with Malik Jefferson.
#Bengals LB coach Jim Haslett and #Saints LB coach Mike Nolan (off video) get close-up view of Malik Jefferson at @TexasFootball pro day. Both teams have needs at OLB. pic.twitter.com/OBwegHFKqj— dré (@Andy_Fenelon) March 28, 2018
Jefferson is a highly regarded linebacker. Especially after he had a very productive Scouting Combine. He finished near the top of the linebackers in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and he put up 27 reps during the bench press. It seems like he will be drafted sometime on day two of the draft.
While Jefferson has the ideal build for an NFL linebacker (6’3” and 235 pounds), he lacks the instincts that would make him an easy first round selection. He is incredibly athletic, but he fails to really decipher what is happening in front of him. He needs to gain a better understanding of what he should be doing, and if he does that he could be a very good addition to any team.
The Bengals need at this position is an obvious one. Vontaze Burfict has been hit with a four-game suspension, and the rest of the young linebackers have really failed to show any kind of spark with their playing time. Plus, Jefferson adds an element of speed that none of the other linebackers bring to the table, which is something this defense desperately needs.
Poona Ford also got a chance to show scouts what he has during the pro day. He is only 5’11” and 300 pounds, but he is a disruptive force in the middle in a niche role. His value has been shot based on size and scheme fit alone, but the Bengals could use a defensive tackle who could provide some pass rush and disruption abilities next to Geno Atkins,
Ford didn’t have a chance to show off his skills at the Combine since he didn’t get an invite, but according to Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst, he didn’t disappoint the scouts in attendance, and the Bengals have shown “a lot of interest” in the defensive tackle.
Ford tipped the scales at 312 pounds, six more than his Senior Bowl weight, completed 24 reps on the bench press and touched 29 inches in the vertical jump and 9-foot-3 in the broad jump. His 40 times ranged between 4.94 and 5.18, his three-cone timed at 7.4 and his short shuttle came in at 4.47. Ford looked good in drills, and teams are projecting him as a three-technique tackle.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are showing a lot of interest in Ford.
Ford could end up being a value pick toward the end of the draft or free agent that could carve out a spot in the rotation of defensive tackles the Bengals. He has very little hope of being more than that because of the limitations stated before, but considering the Bengals needs he could be a nice addition.