Markus Bailey was one of the best linebackers that played college football in the past few years, but his draft stock took a hit after he missed his senior season due to injury.
Now healthy and ready to compete, Bailey has a chance to make an immediate impact for the Bengals.
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Back in July, Bailey signed his rookie contract soon after he reported for training camp. It’s a four-year deal that has a total value of $3.4 million, per spotrac. In 2020, Bailey will take home $723,696 and will count $638,424 against the cap once the regular season begins.
Despite playing high school ball 10 miles from Ohio Stadium, Ohio State was not among the teams to offer Bailey a scholarship.
Bailey chose Purdue and played in two games as a true freshman for the Boilermakers. Unfortunately, early that season he tore his ACL resulting in a redshirt.
The following year he returned and was in no way stymied by the injury. He had 97 tackles, six tackles for a loss, and four interceptions.
As a sophomore he had 89 tackles, 11 for a loss, and an interception.
Then in his junior year he had 115 tackles, including nine for a loss. The highlight of the season was his pick-six against the Buckeyes that sealed Purdue’s upset victory as Bailey took revenge against his hometown team who had failed to offer him a scholarship.
Unfortunately, he would end his collegiate career the way he started it; with an early-season ACL injury ending his season prematurely.
Bailey’s junior film showed an excellent linebacker prospect who is particularly gifted in pass coverage. A year earlier, he could have been a Day 2 pick, but this second injury made him slip. The Bengals selected him in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft, their final selection.
Outlook for 2020
The Bengals had a big need at linebacker and they tripled down at the position in the draft. While the Bengals selected Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither earlier, Bailey could be the best of the bunch.
Although Bailey had two major injuries, it is important to note that he played three complete seasons in between. He is not injury prone. In fact, he says he is healthy and ready to go for the 2020 season.
He is an extremely talented linebacker with very good range in coverage and the speed to play the run sideline-to-sideline.
Pass defense was a major issue for the Bengals last season and has been an issue at the linebacker position for the past few years. This could be the key to Bailey getting on the field.
The Bengals are going to have excellent competition at the linebacker position with rookies Wilson, Davis-Gaither, and Bailey joining veterans Germaine Pratt and Josh Bynes.
Don’t sleep on Bailey just because he was a seventh-round pick and is coming off of injury. He has a shot to be the best in the group.
Bailey has a ton of potential, but competition will be fierce at the linebacker position this year.
He could have a major impact this season and establish himself as the future linebacker, but he will have to fight to get on the field first.
Roster Odds: 75%