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NFL Cincinnati Bengals

Grading the Cincinnati Bengals’ First-Round Selection of Darqueze Dennard

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals were projected to be looking defense with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After three straight playoff appearances, the Bengals were one team that stood pat in their original draft slot. When they did find themselves on the clock, an unexpected name was still on the board at the 24th pick. At that spot, the Bengals selected defensive back Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State. Dennard was rated as one of the best DBs in this year’s crop of talent.

Cincinnati’s defense has been a solid unit for the last few years. Adding a shutdown corner will only add to the Bengals’ strength of shutting down opposing attacks. New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was one who thought that Dennard would be long gone by the time the Bengals were on the clock.

As a senior, Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award as the country’s best defensive back. He is a physical corner and has developed a track record of production during his full collegiate career. Dennard can defend the deep ball, will get his fare share of interceptions and is also not afraid to step up and make a tackle.

Even within the division, Dennard will become a valuable player. He could be matched up against guys like Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith and Josh Gordon throughout the year. For the Bengals, the pick is an A- grade overall. It fills a need and was a pick that needed to be made given the division surrounding the Bengals. For Cincinnati, it could provide immediate returns on the defensive side of the ball and perhaps become a late first-round steal in the process.

Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.