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2014 NFL Draft: Cincinnati Bengals Could Target TCU CB Jason Verrett in First Round
If there was one side of the ball the Cincinnati Bengals did not struggle on last season, it was defense. Ranking third in total defense and ranking fifth in passing yards per game, the Bengals successfully overcame several key injuries, including losing Geno Atkins and Leon Hall for the season. Those injuries still did not prevent the team from reaching the 2013 NFL Playoffs, where the team fell victim to the San Diego Chargers by a score of 27-10.
Unfortunately with success, sometimes there’s a price. The cost of the team’s success was their long-time defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer‘s departure to the Minnesota Vikings, where he will get his first shot as a head coach. In his place, the Bengals promoted linebackers coach Paul Guenther to the position, where he will look to continue what Zimmer has built.
The first order of business, must be addressing the cornerback position. With Hall coming off his second ACL injury in three years, Terence Newman at the ripe old age of 35, Adam Jones over the 30 year old mark, and the NFL transitional struggles of second-year corner Dre Kirkpatrick, upgrades are badly needed. Not to mention the fact that the contracts of Hall, Jones and Kirkpatrick are up after 2015, and the Bengals should definitely look to add defensive backs to the secondary.
That is why it should be point number one in the 2014 NFL Draft. At pick No. 24, the Bengals should look towards TCU speedster Jason Verrett to add youth and stability to the position.
Verrett compares favorably to Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, a free agent from the Tennessee Titans in 2013. At 5’9″ and 189 pounds, Verrett does not possess the prototypical size that NFL scouts covet, as showcased by the Legion of Boom of the Seattle Seahawks. What he may lack in size, however, he levels the playing field with his aggressiveness and physicality at the line of scrimmage. Verrett uses every yard possible to disrupt the receiver’s routes, using good technique and jamming them from the second the ball is snapped.
Another attribute he uses to gain advantages on the field is his speed, which he demonstrated by running a blazing 4.38-second 40-yard dash. A playmaker in the secondary, Verrett excels at one-on-one matchups while in man coverage. His speed enables him to blanket the receiver before cutting the route off as the ball is thrown, creating turnovers at the last moment by baiting the quarterback.
In space, Verrett has great vision and instincts. He’s capable of using his hips fluidly to get into the backfield, and his shiftiness makes him elusive to block in the backfield. While capable of playing in the slot or on the outside, Verrett really has not been tested against bigger receivers and it is unknown how he could compete with 6’3″ and 6’4″ receivers in the NFL. A ball-hawking young corner that has great vision, good instincts and can attack the football is rare no matter the measurables, and the Bengals should act quickly if he is still there at No. 24 on draft day.
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