Very rarely do the Bengals dabble in the FCS during the NFL Draft. Last year, they spent a fifth-round pick on cornerback Davontae Harris from Illinois State, who went on to make the final roster and play in three games.
This year, they concluded their draft with the selection South Dakota State’s Jordan Brown, another cornerback.
As evident by how the draft panned out, the top of the cornerback class was not highly regarded. But 31 of them ended up getting drafted. Brown was No. 28 to come off the board and will enter a cornerback room in Cincinnati rich with talent at the position.
What Brown brings to the Bengals
Ball production: In his four years with the Jackrabbits, Brown accumulated 35 passes defended and eight interceptions. 27 of those passes defended and six of those interceptions came in his final two years. Even against low-level competition, that’s elite production that you want in a cornerback prospect. He was also a former wide receiver, so you know his ball skills are legit.
Explosive athleticism: An NFL combine invite, Brown jumped 39.5” in the vertical jump and 128” in the broad jump. At his measured size of 6-0 and 201 pounds, that is elite explosion. He isn’t the fastest player at that size, but his ability to break on routes makes him an intriguing off-coverage defender.
Leadership: This has been a clear theme this year. The Bengals have done a good job in this draft of investing in well-respected locker room leaders and Brown is no exception. In his final season, he was elected as a team captain and has been praised for his maturity as a player. He never missed a game once he earned a starting role in 2016.
Why the Bengals selected Brown
Positional value: Quality cornerback play is obviously incredibly important; depending on who you ask, it’s even more significant than a defense’s pass rush. The Bengals were pretty set on depth at the position, but Brown adds to it nicely for where he got picked.
Future flexibility: Once again, Darqueze Dennard is entering a contract year. The Bengals were content with letting him walk this offseason but managed to retain him for a price much lower than expected. That may not be the case next year. If it isn’t, Brown can be a piece that eases the blow.
Low-risk upside: Very rarely do FCS players, even studs like Brown, become long-term contributors in the NFL. This is mainly due to lack of opportunity and Brown may never get the chance to prove himself as a starter, but his production and athleticism are both great selling points for his future outlook.
Spread the wealth: With their previous nine picks, the Bengals essentially addressed every other position group, with the exception of the secondary. No harm in throwing cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones a bone before the draft ended. Brown actually being a quality player is the cherry on top.