The Bengals’ second pick on Day 3 addressed their need for depth on the edge of their defensive line by drafting Notre Dame’s Khalid Kareem. This may not seem like the most pressing needs to fans, but this is a very important addition going forward.
What brings to the Bengals
Versatility: Kareem is classified as an edge player, but he also has the ability to kick inside along the defensive line as well, which is always a nice cherry on top of any defensive lineman. He will play most of his snaps as a defensive end, but it never hurts to be able to maximize the amount of snaps you can have.
Run Support: The Bengals run defense was a huge issue last season, and Kareem’s best quality is being able to use his length to separate from the offensive line and make a play. He also has some next level instincts and ability to read where the runner is going. He will often be a guy you see setting the edge or squeezing gaps on running plays.
Why the Bengals selected
Depth: The Bengals may have guys like Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson, but if any of those guys go down then it is forcing the others to play some serious snaps. We saw that in the first half of the season when Lawson was out, and Dunlap and Hubbard were playing almost entire games. The Bengals have always loved having a nice rotation of players, and Kareem will fit in nicely to that.
Room to grow: Kareem relied too much on his bull rush at the college level, and it is safe to say that won’t get it done in the NFL. Fortunately, he has a room fool of technicians who will be able to at least give him some counters to add to his resume. No one should expect the rookie to become an all-pro pass rusher, but even improving slightly in that area could make him a very nice addition when someone like Dunlap eventually moves on.
Kareem is a very powerful and lengthy defensive lineman who should instantly have a role on running downs in the defensive line rotation. He isn’t as explosive of developed as a pass rusher as you’d like to see, but there is hope that he can improve to at least become a serviceable pass rusher.
He may not be a pick that blows fans away, but he should become a very valuable role player for years to come.