If there is one thing that a non-football fans knows about the Cincinnati Bengals, it may well be their reputation for being a team that is willing to give a number of players second or third chances after they run afoul of the law, or of the National Football League.
They have done so most apparently in recent years—perhaps particularly this past year—at the cornerback position with Adam Jones, who has had multiple public altercations, one of which involved some legal matters stemming from a physical event that I believe remains not fully resolved.
But evidently there is one cornerback that they were not as willing to forgive. According to Bradley Roby, the Bengals told him prior to the 2014 NFL Draft that they were going to select him. Instead, they selected Darqueze Dennard. While they did pick up Dennard’s fifth-year option, they are probably regretting that from an on-field perspective.
Speaking with the Denver Post, the Broncos cornerback said that while he was on a pre-draft visit with the Bengals, the team told him “don’t worry about it…we’re going to pick you”. Of course, they didn’t, and the reason for that might have been his subsequently being charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
The mild irony here is that his new head coach, Vance Joseph, was the Bengals’ defensive backs coach in 2014. So that means, most likely, that Joseph really liked him quite a bit as a player, but it’s also possible that he was turned away due to the OVI charge and moved on to the next cornerback on his board.
Dennard has struggled to find a consistent role, and to perform consistently, during his first three seasons in the league, but Roby has been a regular contributor right off the bat. He has played in every game, recording 144 tackles with five interceptions and 31 passes defensed—returning two interceptions last year for touchdowns—in addition to two sacks and four forced fumbles.
Dennard has 84 tackles in his career in 39 games with one interception and five passes defensed. Last season, he played in a career-high 15 games, making three starts in the slot. He also posted a career-high 47 tackles, but he only recorded one pass defensed with no interceptions.
While the Bengals have been in good shape at the cornerback position, the Broncos have the best starting tandem in the league in Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, and a statistic that I posted about yards allowed per coverage snap supports that. Fittingly, the Bengals were second in that statistic, and the Steelers third.