Three Cincinnati Bengals coaches spoke glowingly Thursday night about cornerback Darqueze Dennard's physical style when they met with reporters to discuss the Michigan State cornerback's selection at 24th overall.
But don't only take it from them. The following is a scouting review of Dennard from ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg. Adam originally crafted this for my ESPN NFL Nation colleague Michael Rothstein, who covers the Lions. It had appeared for a while that Dennard would be taken somewhere in the No. 10-20 range of the first round. The Bengals didn't really expect him to still be on the board at No. 24.
Fuller went 14th. Roby ended up going to Denver at No. 31.
Anyway, take a look at Rittenberg's comments on Dennard. They come from a more objective place than the Bengals' brass, but they actually mirror a lot of what Cincinnati's staff said:
"Unlike many college teams, Michigan State consistently puts its cornerbacks on islands so it can bring pressure from other points on the field. Darqueze Dennard thrived in this system, particularly as the leader of the Spartans' "No Fly Zone" secondary in 2013.
"He's fast and physical and plays the ball well, recording 10 career interceptions. He lacks exceptional size but matched up well physically with most top opposing wideouts. Dennard's work in zone coverage is limited because Michigan State plays so much man, so he'll have to prove himself as a complete corner in the NFL. He would be better suited on a defense that employs an aggressive scheme and likes to press on the outside.
"The concerns about Dennard's health seem unfounded. He showed no ill effects from double-hernia surgery before the 2013 season and started 29 consecutive games to end his college career. Dennard plays well in big games, standing out in Michigan State's bowl wins against Stanford and Georgia, and forcing a fumble in the 2013 Big Ten championship against Ohio State.
"Dennard had an exceptional senior season, although he didn't face two of the Big Ten's top receivers in Penn State's Allen Robinson and Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis. He's an extremely hard worker, an overlooked recruit from a no-stoplight town in Georgia (Dry Branch) who only came to Michigan State when an assistant noticed him while recruiting another player.
"Bottom line: Dennard has a chance to become an elite NFL corner, especially if he excels in zone coverage. But he'll be a solid addition to any secondary."
-- Adam Rittenberg