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Assessing the value Bengals got in drafting Illinois State DB Davontae Harris

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The Bengals ensured their cornerback depth wouldn’t be an issue by taking this small-school DB in Round 5.

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Illinois State v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Davontae Harris is looking to become the latest Day 3 defensive back that makes the Bengals’ 53-man roster.

In recent years, we’ve see Clayton Fejedelem, Josh Shaw, George Iloka, Derron Smith and Brandon Wilson on the 53-man roster after being Day 3 selections. While they’ve had varying success, Harris hopes to also make the 53-man roster as a rookie and prove he belongs in this league.

The Bengals came into the draft needing to find another cornerback. While it wasn’t an immediate need, it could become one next year when Darqueze Dennard hits free agency. Josh Shaw is also slated to become a free agent, and they just cut Adam Jones this offseason.

Over the last three seasons, Harris totaled 37 pass defenses. The three-year starter tested well at the combine with a 4.43 second 40 yard dash, 22 reps on the bench press, and a 4.4 20 yard shuttle. His complaints are in his technique and hip fluidity, but he won’t be pressed to play early, so he will have the time to mature into an NFL defensive back.

Before the 2018 NFL Draft began, Harris, who was selected 151st overall, was widely projected as a Day 3 prospect, though some experts didn’t even rank him.

ESPN’s Todd McShay had Harris unranked coming into the draft, while Mel Kiper ranked him 169th. NFL.com ranked Harris 141st, CBS Sports had him ranked 202nd.

The Cold Omaha Consensus Big Board, which factors in every major draft ranking, had Harris ranked as the 258th-best prospect in this draft.

It wasn’t the greatest value in Round 5, but Day 3 is when you take gambles, and there’s a lot to like about Harris.

Looking ahead, Harris now enters the Bengals’ defensive back room looking to learn from a talented group that includes William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and KeiVarae Russell.