The Bengals selected linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
The Bengals' coaching staff got to know Davis-Gaither during Senior Bowl week and met with him multiple times during the pre-draft process.
The 22 year old projects to be an inside linebacker at the next level. He's athletic enough to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield, plus he always finds himself around the ball.
Some may worry about drafting a 6-1, 224 pound linebacker, but his athleticism and natural instincts should help make up for his lack of size. He sheds blocks easily and isn't afraid to deliver big hits.
"We're happy with the value we got at this point in the draft," defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. "This guy is going to potentially be on the field for all four downs which is great."
There were some concerns around the league about a partial stress fracture in his right foot. He played with the injury last season and in the Senior Bowl. He hurt his foot in Week 3, but played in all 14 games. He's already running again and is supposed to be 100 percent in a few weeks.
"We trust our doctors and obviously we did our due diligence on that," Anarumo said. "If we felt that was an issue, we wouldn't have taken him."
The Bengals took Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson in the third round on Friday night. The organization wanted to upgrade at that spot and they've done just that over the past few days.
"We're never satisfied [with depth]," Anarumo said. "If there's a guy that we feel like adds value, then we'll go with him. It's now out of the question that we'll go back there."
Davis-Gaither finished his college career with back-to-back 100+ tackle seasons. He was named the SBC Defensive Player of the Year Award following a stellar senior campaign. He started all 14 games for the Mountaineers last season and finished with 101 tackles (14.5 for loss), five sacks and one interception.