With their 10 selections in the NFL Draft, the Bengals doubled down on two positions of need. One pick before they took a second running back in Rodney Anderson, Deshaun Davis joined third-round pick Germaine Pratt as Cincinnati’s newest linebackers.
Pratt became the first NC State prospect drafted by the franchise since Scott Kooistra, but Davis now enters an impressive list of Auburn alumni drafted by the Bengals. His former teammate Carl Lawson and C.J. Uzomah represent the present, and Pat Sims and Rudi Johnson are examples of mid-round steals of the past.
Then there’s first-round picks Takeo Spikes and Willie Anderson, who rightfully headline the group, and both have nothing but praise for Davis.
“What you expect out of Deshaun Davis is not only will he be accountable for himself, but he will hold everybody else accountable. And consistency,” Spikes told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “The beautiful thing about him is he’s advanced from the mental side of it. Mentally he’s there... I’m happy the Bengals gave him an opportunity to fill a spot and I do believe he can fill a spot.
“He’s a big picture guy. A really big-picture guy,” Spikes says. “Most guys are into the fame and all that goes with playing. But he wanted to know if he did certain things to get this, how he could leverage it to be in a better position when the game is over. That really attracted me to him.”
Spoken like a true big brother.
The connection between Davis and Anderson is strong as well, both were once phenoms at Vigor High School’s football program and went on to become drafted by the Bengals after first playing for the Tigers.
I bragged to Marvin & @Bengals about @carllawson55 who I’ve known since Highschool. was right about Carl. I’ve Known @_Davis_Boy12 even longer . From my Hometown. My Highschool @vigorfootball . I’m not gonna go over board but Watch the Kind of worker you’re getting! #FanFavorite— Willie Anderson (@BigWillie7179) April 27, 2019
A year after Anderson was drafted, the Bengals hired Mark Duffner as their linebackers coach. In his second year, the Bengals drafted Spikes with their first-round pick and five tremendous seasons for the linebacker followed. Duffner was there for all of them, and now returns to the staff as a senior defensive assistant to coach Davis.
“One of the best teachers I ever had,” Spikes says. “Put it this way. I don’t think I would have been able to grasp everything I got from other guys if it wasn’t for Mark Duffner laying down the foundation for me.”
Tem Lukabu is the new linebackers coach, and having coached against Davis in the SEC, what he saw on tape is what he got on the field last week.
“That guy is fun to be around,” Lukabu said after rookie minicamp. “The No. 1 thing is that he commands the huddle. That guy’s a MIKE (middle linebacker). He wants to call the plays. He wants to be the signal caller. You don’t always see that. Great instincts. Very good recall. He asks all the right questions.”
Talk is nice, but Pratt is the linebacker that has a roster spot essentially locked up. Someone has to fill Vontaze Burfict’s shadow at WILL linebacker. Davis’ future resides in the middle and his intangibles and play strength should help him secure a spot on the final roster.
If not, head coach Zac Taylor may be having a word with a couple of Auburn legends.