Stop me if you have heard this one before for the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2022 NFL Draft class: They drafted a very athletic defensive back who is versatile in where he can line up.
That’s what this team got when they drafted Daxton Hill in the first round, Cam Taylor-Britt, and it’s what they are getting after trading up to the 166th pick to take Toledo safety Tycen Anderson.
What Anderson brings to the table
The Bengals are getting another defensive back who has off-the-chart athletic ability. He ran a sub-4.40-second 40-yard dash and is very fluid in his hips. The thing he also has going for him is his size. He is 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds with 33-inch arms.
He ultimately looks like a defensive back who will end up playing inside the box like he did at Toledo. Anderson did a great job of getting in the backfield and ruining plenty of run attempts. That speed and size really help there.
The issues come when Anderson is asked to play down the field coverage or line up deep as a safety. He even has some issues with angles from the deep safety spot. Fortunately, Cincinnati won’t need him to line up there often at all.
Why the Bengals selected Anderson
It is pretty clear that the Bengals are not confident they will be able to retain both Jessie Bates or Vonn Bell at safety, if they are able to re-sign either after this season. Anderson seems like he really fits that Bell role as a box safety but has that added value as a nickel corner.
Anderson will likely have issues getting on the field that often before next season with Hill being the third safety who will see most of the snaps inside the box or allowing Bell to line up in the box.
This gives the secondary some great depth, though. The thing Anderson has over Hill is that he is more stout. Hill is big and lengthy, but he needs to fill out his frame a bit. Anderson comes in as a bit more physically imposing defender.
The most we may see from Anderson on defense this season is lining up on earlier downs when the team is expecting a run from the offense. He is also security in case any of the safeties unfortunately go down. They will be able to have Anderson come in to rotate roles around.
You will also get to see plenty of this guy on special teams with his speed and ability to tackle. That isn’t the sexiest thing, but it is great for a special team unit that did a fairly good job last year already.
Anderson doesn’t have the coverage ability currently to push for more of a role, but he will have at least a season to develop before he is asked to fill a bigger role.