The Cincinnati Bengals made a number of great draft selection this year, coming away with a total of 11 picks.
Everyone has a different opinion on which pick is the best, but CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson has an interesting take on the best player selected by the Bengals during the draft.
Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas (78th pick): He’s an athletic freak who could be the latest draft find for the Bengals, who have made a habit out of unearthing fantastic defensive talent after the first round (Geno Atkins, George Iloka and Carl Lawson all come to mind).
This is not the pick you might think of when considering which of the Bengals’ picks was the best, but it’s nice to know that analysts think Jefferson could be a difference maker for the Bengals.
Jefferson spent three seasons at Texas in which he had 231 tackles including 26 for loss, 13 sacks, 5 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery (which went for a touchdown) and 2 forced fumbles.
Here’s some info on Jefferson from our sister site, Burnt Orange Nation, which covers Texas.
As the No. 10 player nationally, the top outside linebacker, and the best player in Texas, Jefferson was expected to make an early impact when he arrived on campus in January of 2015.
It didn’t take much game time before Jefferson put a big hit on a Notre Dame running back, ultimately finishing the game with nine tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. In starting nine games, Jefferson finished with 61 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes broken up, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown against Rice.
Jefferson missed the Texas Bowl due to turf toe but is healthy now and participated in the NFL Scouting Combine where he recorded a 4.52 second 40-yard dash and posted a 36” vertical jump. Keep in mind, he weighs 236 pounds. He’s an athletic guy and the Bengals can certainly use athletic linebackers.
Jefferson played 34 games, including 29 starts at Texas and if Wilson is right, he’ll hopefully be playing early and often for the Bengals in 2018. The Bengals had major linebacker issues last season as nearly every player at the position on the roster dealt with injuries and undrafted rookies ended up starting games as a result.
It would be nice for a third round linebacker to be an impactful player for Cincinnati. Nick Vigil was a third round linebacker for the Bengals in 2016 and though he’s had nice moments, he still has a ways to go in taking his game to the next level. P.J. Dawson was also a third round linebacker selection for the Bengals and his career in Cincinnati was not a productive one.
Do you think Jefferson could turn into the Bengals’ best player?