The Bengals coaches are racking up frequent flyer miles this time of year.
It seems like they are everywhere, and one of the most recent pro day visits took Bengals linebacker coach Jimmy Haslett to Indiana. That gives a pretty clear indication who the Bengals were interested in.
Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales is on Cincinnati’s radar. In fact, he even reportedly has a visit scheduled with the Bengals.
The Bengals went out and signed Preston Brown in free agency, but it is clear they aren’t done trying to address the weakness of this defense. It doesn’t help that Vontaze Burfict is set to miss the first four games of the season due to suspension.
Scales is an undersized linebacker at only 6’ and 230 pounds. He also didn’t do much to quell concerns about his athleticism with his 4.77 40-yard dash at the combine. It really just confirmed that he isn’t going to be making a lot of plays due to his speed, but he has enough to keep him from getting beat to the edge regularly.
His real strength is his instincts. He was always around the ball at Indiana. He had 89 tackles last season including 12.5 for a loss and six sacks. He is also pretty good in coverage. He had eight total interceptions during his time in college, and the Bengals desperately need a linebacker who can cover. Last year, Cincinnati linebackers were regularly scorched by opposing offenses through the air.
Scales looks like he could end up being a day three selection, which would be a huge bargain for the Bengals. Scales could come in during obvious passing downs early in his career while he works into a more regular role. It is likely he would have to move to outside linebacker due to his size though.
Still, the idea of having Scales to finally fix a problem that has been nagging the Bengals since the Rey Maualuga era sounds amazing. It could really help put this defense right back into the conversation as one of the best in the NFL. Plus it would give new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin more flexibility in the defenses he can call.
Here is how he looked against Ohio State last year:
You can see he needs to work on getting off of blocks, but where he really shines is in coverage. there are several plays where Ohio State gets him one on one with a receiver or running back, and he answers the bell. That is something the Bengals could really use on passing downs.