By this point in time in a rookie’s career, it’s usually already possible to tell if he is the real deal or if he’s just going to fall by the wayside, ride the bench for a few seasons until he sees out his contract and then get lost in the free agency ocean. This year for the Cincinnati Bengals it seems like they may have a winner with every pick. Often when teams decide to draft deep at the linebacker position, the player would be considered a ‘project.’ That player would be sitting in the developmental stage working towards becoming a starter for quite some time and often never quite make it. This doesn’t seem to be the case, however, with Sean Porter.
Drafted with the 118th pick in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, outside linebacker Porter from Texas A&M seems to have a lot going for him already. Weighing in at 229 pounds at the NFL combine and reporting to rookie minicamp at 237 pounds, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer seems to be extremely impressed with the hard work that he put in to pack on an additional seven pounds of muscle in such a short time. He also mentioned how impressed he was during all drills they were running during OTAs, although he was mostly working with safety Shawn Williams who is likely to be playing a key role in the Bengals secondary next season.
Porter, however, will almost definitely not be starting next season. Before this year’s draft, the Bengals were tipped to take an outside linebacker early on. They were even tipped to look for Kansas State University linebacker Arthur Brown, but on the 19th of April, the Bengals announced the signing of OLB James Harrison two a two-year deal. This immediately changed draft boards all over for Bengals writers and fans alike. Suddenly the plan was draft for depth, and that’s exactly what they did. Totaling 261 tackles and14.5 sacks, Porter has showed that he is a versatile linebacker and effective pass rusher who has great speed in the open field which comes in very handy when he steps out to cover a slot receiver.
The great thing for Porter is that he doesn’t have to immediately start as he will be in the depth chart behind veteran Harrison. He will also have an excellent mentor in Harrison who will make sure that he does an effective job before he steps back from the SAM position. The downside for Porter is that despite the loss of versatile linebacker Dan Skuta to the San Francisco 49ers, there is still a lot of depth at the position so he will be doing a lot of fighting in training camp in order to see any playing time ahead of the likes of Vincent Rey and Emmanuel Lamur.
There will be a lot of work ahead for Porter heading into training camp in a few weeks time, but for the moment it seems as though he will be the future of the position in Cincinnati. This season, however, he will likely take over for lost linebacker Skuta on special teams.
Simon Greene -Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88