Cincinnati Bengals draft emphasis on versatility should allow defense to perform at championship level – Cincinnati Bengals Blog
CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo had every reason to smile on the first night of the NFL Draft.
After all, Anarumo’s unity was one of the main reasons Bengals season ticket holders posed for photos with the AFC Championship trophy at the team’s draft night on Thursday. latest. Cincinnati forced nine playoff turnovers and limited teams to 1.86 points per practice in their unlikely Super Bowl run, which ended in a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Cincinnati’s 2022 draft class gave Anarumo even more reason to smile. Five of the team’s six picks were defensive players, including the first three picks. This year’s draft gives Anarumo the parts needed to keep opposing offenses on their toes in 2022 and beyond.
The Bengals’ draft strategy supports Anarumo’s belief that versatility is the best way to defend the high-powered offenses that have defined the NFL in recent years.
“The more they can do, the better,” Anarumo said of the team’s defense.
This phrase could serve as an unofficial motto for the fourth-year coordinator’s defensive philosophy. Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years was achieved in large part because of Anarumo’s ability to adjust his game plan from week to week.
The two games played by Cincinnati against the Kansas City Chiefs are examples of this flexibility. In the second half of the first contest, in Week 17, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes faced far more 3 cover looks than man-to-man coverage with two deep safeties, according to ESPN Stats. & Information. However, that game plan flipped when the Bengals faced the Chiefs four weeks later in the AFC title game.
Although the methods changed, the results were the same. In each game, a confused Kansas City offense failed to score a touchdown after halftime. Most telling of the approach, Anarumo carried out these splits using essentially the same personnel, with the top four defensive backs – safety Jessie Bates III, safety Vonn Bell and outside cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple – playing every time.
Each of the defensive players drafted by the Bengals last weekend has shown their ability to line up in different places during their college careers.
Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, Cincinnati’s second-round pick in Nebraska, did a number of different things in Cornhusker’s secondary.
“He’s a good press corner, but he’s also shown some flexibility playing in deep areas and safety stuff, but also as a corner,” Anarumo said. “So he’s done a bit of everything, which is great.”
Equally important, this year’s draft class is eager to embrace the idea of playing multiple roles in the NFL. Daxton Hill, Cincinnati’s first-round pick, played safety and lunge cornerback at Michigan. As a rookie, Hill could be featured in dime packages with six defensive backs and could also be asked to take on other duties in the Bengals’ backfield.
“I don’t really want to limit myself, because I know I can play other positions – whatever it is, when it may be,” Hill said after being drafted. “I’m ready for the trip.”
Hill, Taylor-Britt and safety Tycen Anderson, the Toledo team’s fifth-round pick, all ran 40-yard dashes under 4.4 seconds in their pre-draft practices. That speed will allow the Bengals to keep pace in a league overflowing with dynamic and fast wide receivers.
But as valuable as all of these traits are, having the ability to learn multiple roles and assignments is just as important. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor thinks Cincinnati has drafted a smart squad that can handle the workload.
“We think it matters,” Taylor said. “It’s important to get to the line before the crash and make the right adjustments after the crash. So when you fight that with the talent that’s on the other side of the ball, you have guys who can play fast and confident and communicate.
Last year, Anarumo’s unit was arguably the biggest surprise as the Bengals went from the NFL’s worst team in 2019 to one possession away from winning the Super Bowl.
Cincinnati won’t sneak up on anyone this season. But this draft class could help their DC’s ever-changing defense continue to play at the championship level.
That’s the kind of staff and planning they’ll need if they want an even bigger trophy to be presented in next year’s draft.