The Cincinnati Bengals have selected Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is the third cornerback off the board, following Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller.
Dennard was rated as one of the top cornerbacks and overall players by SB Nation, coming in as the 21st-best player on the top 200 big board and No. 2 in the CB rankings behind Jason Verrett (but ahead of Bradley Roby and Justin Gilbert).
Despite the first-round investment, Dennard might sit more than fans would expect, according to Cincy Jungle's Josh Kirkendall:
We wouldn't expect the Bengals to start Dennard immediately, but he's a tremendous insurance policy this year and will develop into a starter either later this year or next season with Newman entering the second season of a two-year deal.
Dennard's accolades match the hype. He was one of the best players on a Spartans defense that was perhaps the best in the country on its way to leading Michigan State to a 13-1 record, Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. Dennard was a consensus first-team All-and was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the best defensive back in college football.
In our SB Nation scouting report of Dennard, Dan Kadar wrote about his coverage skills:
At Michigan State, Dennard was often put on an island by himself. That forced him into man coverage most of the time. Because of that, Dennard is advanced as a press coverage cornerback. His best move is jamming right at the line of scrimmage and bailing to drop into coverage. Dennard is prone to pushing and grabbing receivers through their routes. While he didn't often get called for penalties in college, he leaves himself open to plenty of them. Though he does seem to know to get grabby and when not to. Has good enough recovery speed if a receiver beats his jam.
Weight: 199 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds
Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds
Dennard didn't do much in Indianapolis, though he didn't really need to. He was never considered a burner relative to other players at his position, and there's little arguing with his game tape. Dennard has repeatedly shown that he has the size and instincts to be an elite corner.