clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Anarumo’s loyalty rewarded

Bengals go defense in first three rounds of draft

Syndication: The Enquirer
Lou Anarumo
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Loyalty has its rewards. Just ask Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.

Anarumo was reportedly in consideration for several head coaching jobs this offseason, and was in the final three for the Arizona Cardinals job that eventually went to former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

Bengals management, players, coaches, and fans were all ecstatic to get their mad scientist back, and his loyalty was rewarded Thursday and Friday night in the 2023 NFL Draft went Cincinnati selected defensive players with its first three picks.

“I think I’m done,” Anarumo quipped after he and head coach Zac Taylor concluded their news conference analyzing the selections of Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy in the first round with the 28th overall pick, Michigan cornerback DJ Turner II in the second round and Alabama safety Jordan Battle in the third round.

The selection of Murphy, who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and recorded 18.5 career sacks, marked the first time the Bengals had drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since they took Justin Smith with the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Like Smith, who finished with 8.5 sacks in his rookie season despite missing the first game, Murphy is expected to make an immediate impact.

“Oh, he’ll be in a rotation right away,” Anarumo said in the news conference at the end of day two of the draft. “We play a ton of D-linemen, so he’ll jump right in there and back up Sam (Hubbard) and Trey (Hendrickson) and, like I said, be in the mix with those guys. (He’ll) be in the third-hour rush package and whatever (else) we come up with there. I’m looking forward to get him going right away.”

Unlike Smith, who missed all of the preseason and the first regular-season game due to protracted contract negotiations, Murphy will be ready to go right away.

“He’s just a bright-eyed guy that loves football and comes across very mature for a young guy,” Anarumo said. “We liked that. When it comes to crunch time, those players like that, (they) will be able to stand up and rise up in those biggest moments and big games and playoff games and things like that. His maturity stood out for sure to me right away.”

If speed was one of the factors in the selection of Murphy, it was an even bigger factor when the Bengals called Turner’s name. The former Michigan speedster clocked a 4.26 40 at the NFL Combine, and had been hand-timed as fast as 4.22.

“When you look around the league and the weapons that so many teams have on offense and the speed that people have, you’ve got to try to match it somehow,” said Anarumo. “The more fast guys that we can get is certainly going to give us an advantage. We’re going to have to chase quarterbacks, and that means you’re going to have to cover a little longer. The faster we are, I think the better chance we have of getting off the field.”

Battle may not have that same kind of blazing speed, but he does have the championship pedigree Cincinnati covets. Battle was a member of Alabama’s 2021 National Championship team and was elected a captain for the 2022 season.

“It’s hard to miss on guys like that,” said head coach Zac Taylor. “When you can set the table (with their) character and their playing experience at a high level in the SEC, and all the big games he’s played (in), he’s just a guy we’re excited for, and we’re excited he was still here in the third round, and we’re excited to add him to the mix.”

For Anarumo, this is where the work begins.

“See you soon,” he quipped as he walked away from the podium.