When it comes to NFL draft prospects, there are multiple ways to look at prospects, and every NFL franchise has its own criteria and strategy to help their team win.
In recent years, athletes with overwhelming measurables and athletic ability have drawn great favor with teams more and more. The idea is that you can’t coach elite size and speed, but you can coach up the football skills they need to put it all together. It’s a calculated risk, and the Cincinnati Bengals took on just that when they drafted defensive lineman Margus Hunt in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Hunt was known in draftnik circles before the start of the 2012 college football season mainly for his freakish triangle numbers and impressive special teams prowess. But as you went back and studied Hunt on film, there were flashes of greatness. More than his 6-foot-8, 277 pound frame and 4.6 speed, there were glimpses of what he can do as a defensive lineman as well.
There were times when he came off the corner, dipped his shoulder and finished at the quarterback. There were other times where he slid inside, got his arms extended, kept his pads low and simply overwhelmed offensive linemen. These flashes are what coaches can work with.
So as Bengals training camp approaches, the team has to look at Hunt and work on refining and developing the football skills his limited experience just hasn’t given him yet. The Bengals have an excellent group of starters on the defensive line, and the team’s coaching staff will have to find ways to incorporate Hunt’s incredible athletic ability as part of a rotation at left defensive end with Carols Dunlap, and probably inside with starting defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko.
The fact that the Bengals are so strong on their front four means that there’s no rush to get Hunt in the mix. He’s not a young prospect by any means, but even with that, there is no hurry to force him into playing time. One thing the Bengals will do is get him on their kick-block teams right away, as he blocked a total of 17 field goals and extra points during his time in college.
It is important to note that Dunlap and fellow defensive end Michael Johnson are both in the final years of their contracts, so 2013 could be a learning year, and 2014 will be the year of the Margus in Cincinnati.