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Bengals reportedly sign UDFA Tennessee-Chattanooga DL Devonnsha Maxwell

The Cincinnati Bengals tapped a small school for a big-time talent.

With what became eight total draft picks, the Cincinnati Bengals did a lot of work in the 2023 NFL Draft. While they addressed defense on Nights 1 and 2, it was largely offense and special teams on the final day.

The team took care of a lot of needs, be it depth or otherwise, but a couple of positions remained largely untouched. Along with tight end, interior defensive line—namely a pass-rushing three-technique—didn’t net selections.

As the Bengals tap the undrafted ranks, that trend is changing. According to reports, Cincinnati has scooped up University of Tennessee-Chattanooga defensive lineman, Devonnsha Maxwell.

At 6-foot-3 and close to 300 pounds, he fits the NFL prototype for an interior defensive lineman. He also has insane production, albeit at the small school level, racking up 37.5 sacks.

He’s a “Super Senior”, who joined the Mocs back in 2017. Aside from the production at a small school, some effort questions have surfaced.

“A lot of teams have questions about my motor, and why some of my reps aren’t as good as other reps,” Maxwell said, via The Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Sometimes I look like I can be an All-Pro and sometimes I look like, ‘Why are they even looking at me as a prospect?’

“I just wanted to come out and show why they need to look at me as a prospect, getting in these drills and giving my all, no matter what. I’m tired? Still giving my all,” he continued. “That’s every day at practice, just coming out here leaving no doubt for these guys, letting them know what they see is what they’re going to get.”

This is the very definition of a developmental guy, in multiple ways—some with the utmost respect. Maxwell is a guy who has traits teams covet, but they obviously feel ample coaching is needed. And, as you see from the above report, other teams were clamoring for him.

Cincinnati needs options to pair with and groom behind B.J. Hill. Maxwell could be a guy who could become a reliable rotational player with the right professional mentoring.

While the Bengals largely prefer to use their picks on big school guys, they have taken chances on smaller school players. And, UTC has a little bit of a lineage with the Bengals in the form of former receiver Terrell Owens being an alum of the school.

Zachary Carter (last year’s third-round pick and currently listed as an IDL on the team’s official roster), Jay Tufele and Domenique Davis will be vying for spots with Maxwell. If Maxwell can show that he can stand up to NFL talent early on, he may find a path to the roster.