The Bengals today signed CB Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, their first-round selection (24th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft.
All eight Bengals selections in the draft are now signed.
“Of course it’s great to have all this done well before we come back for training camp,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “As for Darqueze, he’s been everything we hoped he would be to this point. He’s a great talent. He played in a big-time pressure defense at Michigan State and he’s not afraid to be out there (in coverage) by himself. And as we knew he would, he conducts himself every day as a mature pro who wants to get better every day.”
Dennard (first name pronounced “dar-KWEZ”) was a USA Today first-team All-American last season for a 13-1 team that was unbeaten in the Big Ten and ranked No. 3 nationally after a Rose Bowl win over Stanford. He helped lead the Spartan defense to No. 1 national rankings in fewest yards allowed per game (248.2) and lowest third-down conversion percentage (27.7).
Also last season, Dennard was the winner of the Thorpe Award, given annually to college football’s top defensive back.
Asked whether Dennard is considered a possible first-year starter, defensive backs coach Vance Joseph said:
“Starting a rookie at corner, it depends on the person. Darqueze is a very mature person. He’s an achiever also. From high school to college, he’s been a winner. His personality, his skill set, I would feel fine starting him. But he’s got to earn it. We’ve got Leon Hall here. We’ve got Terence Newman. We’ve got Adam Jones. We’ve got Dre Kirkpatrick. He’s got to earn it.”