The Cincinnati Bengals end up adding a relative of a Pittsburgh Steelers great after all.
No, it wasn’t Joey Porter Jr.
Instead, the Bengals have reportedly signed Shaka Heyward, a linebacker for the Duke Blue Devils.
Former Duke LB Shaka Heyward will sign with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent, per source— Adam Rowe? (@AdamRoweTDD) April 29, 2023
Heyward had an uphill battle in this draft process. On tape, he appeared to not have the necessary speed to play linebacker in today’s NFL. He did manage to run close to a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, but time will tell if he has really developed in that front.
There were plenty of positives with Heyward, though. He has been one of Duke’s starting linebackers for the past four seasons, and he has been pretty durable over those four years. He also has the size at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. He’s also shown some ability in zone coverage.
The Bengals are deep at linebacker right now after re-signing Germaine Pratt with returning linebackers Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey. However, none of the latter three are under contract past next season.
While Wilson is in line to be re-signed or extended, the others are going to be a mystery. That means there are potentially a couple of roster spots that will need to be filled down the line.
Heyward may have seen the Bengals as an opportunity to earn his way onto a roster next season if he can earn a spot on the practice squad.
For what it’s worth, Shaka drew some comparisons to current Bengals stud linebacker Germaine Pratt.
Germaine Pratt (former 3rd rounder) is a great comp for #Duke LB Shaka Heyward (@S_Heyward05).— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) March 12, 2023
VERY similar athletic testing numbers (⬇️) and college stats.
Over final 2 college ACC seasons.
Heyward vs Pratt
192/ 173 Tcks
17.5/ 15.5 TFLs
5.0 / 6.0 sacks
3 / 2 INTs#ShrineBowl https://t.co/ToykHCy22Z
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