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Bengals 2024 Combine Watch List: Defensive Backs

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By: Matthew Minich

Who to look for at the combine.

On Friday, March 1st, the defensive backs will take the field for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Which prospects should Cincinnati Bengals fans be keeping a close eye on?

We’re glad you asked.

History under Zac Taylor

The Bengals have invested heavily in the defensive backfield in recent years.

In 2022, they used their first two picks on a safety (Michigan’s Dax Hill) and a cornerback (Nebraska’s Cam Taylor-Britt), both of whom were starting within a year. In the fifth round of that same draft, they added Toledo safety Tycen Anderson.

Last year, they spent three more picks on the secondary, adding Michigan cornerback DJ Turner in the second round, Alabama safety Jordan Battle in the third, and Miami cornerback DJ Ivey in the seventh. Turner split start reps with Chidobe Awuzie throughout the season, and Battle eventually beat out Nick Scott as the team’s starting safety.

Former South Dakota State Jackrabbit Jordan Brown was the last pick of Taylor’s first draft in 2019.


The Bengals have spent four high picks at the position in the last two years, and while all four have had growing pains, they have also shown a lot of potential. With Taylor-Britt, Turner, Hill, and Battle, the Bengals secondary is a talented young group,

That, of course, excludes one starter, slot corner Mike Hilton. Hilton is a tremendous talent and a great leader, but he is entering the last year of his contract. The Bengals may look to address the future of that position in the draft, giving Hilton’s eventual replacement a year of apprenticeship.

Of course, depth and special teams value are also in play, so don’t be surprised if the team selects more defensive backs later in the draft.

Fit and Prospects to Watch

If the Bengals go cornerback in Round 1, it will probably be Clemson’s Nate Wiggins or Alabama’s Terrion Arnold. Both have impressive ball skills and make excellent breaks in zone coverage.

The Bengals love Michigan defensive backs, and Mike Sainristil jumps off the film for his potential as a slot cornerback. He has an incredible motor and is always around the football.

Florida State’s Jarrian Jones also stands out as a slot. He makes excellent reads and is a good blitzer, something that Hilton also excels at.

USC’s Calen Bullock and Georgia’s Tykee Smith could both be in consideration as safeties, but I like what I have seen out of each of them in the slot as well. Bullock has some nice ball skills and loves to hit. Smith is also a big thumper and shows good timing as a blitzer.

Speaking of hitters, Utah’s Sione Vaki has a real chip on his shoulder when he comes in to make a tackle. The safety could be an interesting depth and special teams piece for the Bengals defense.

Tennessee cornerback Kamel Hadden doesn’t seem to be getting the buzz he deserves. He has some excellent ball skills and is a physical tackle, which is a priority for the Bengals at the position.

They’ll also like Penn State’s Johnny Dixon. His passion for the game is evident when you watch him play. He loves football and brings great energy to every play. I realize how hokey that sounds, but trust me, it is something this coaching staff values.

Originally posted on Cincy Jungle – All Posts