There is no question that the Bengals will be addressing their linebackers this offseason. It was an obvious weak point for the defense in 2019, and the team has recognized it is in need of major upgrades.
News has broke that Cincinnati has met with one of the hot names at that position already.
App State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither met formally at the combine with the #Titans, #Dolphins, #49ers, #Raiders, #Giants, #Rams, #Bengals and others. He's one of the more athletic linebackers in this draft.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) March 4, 2020
The Bengals were also able to coach Akeem Davis-Gaither at the Senior Bowl, so this is the second time the team has been able to pick his brain.
Davis-Gaither isn’t viewed as a first-round pick at this time. He is undersized, and he is currently rehabbing from surgery on his right foot (that he should be recovered from in time for his rookie season). He has become a pretty well known name though because he is viewed as a diamond in the rough.
The Appalachian State linebacker embodies many of the traits NFL teams are looking for in modern linebackers. He is extremely athletic, he has the versatility to bounce outside to the slot at times, and he moved around linebacker positions plenty in college.
Although his final fit in the NFL may be at outside linebacker, Davis’ ability to cover will make him a valuable player at the next level. He also doesn’t shy away from contact and is very active in the running game. Finally, his range is something Cincinnati has been missing at the linebacker position for several years now.
Davis-Gaither may need a season or two to come into his own as a linebacker. He may start out as a situational player, but the potential for him to grow into a three-down player at the next level seems pretty safe as long as he is able to develop a little more as a getting off blocks.
The Bengals obviously need a pretty big turnover in the linebacker room, and adding Davis-Gaither would be a good start to that.