Bengals take Notre Dame edge rusher Khalid Kareem in fifth round of the NFL Draft

James Rapien

The Bengals' defensive makeover continues. They selected Notre Dame edge rusher Khalid Kareem in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. 

Cincinnati its' last three draft picks on defense. First, they added Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson in round three, before doubling down at linebacker with Akeem Davis-Gaither in the fourth round. 

The Bengals believe Kareem can play defensive end and outside linebacker.

"He’s another guy that brings us some flexibility," defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. "He did both at Notre Dame. I see him as a defensive end to start. When we are in our sub defense he’s out there securing the edges. At this point in the draft when you get a guy who is big, tall and long — I mean this guy has an 84-inch wingspan, had 13 sacks in his career, was a captain at Notre Dame last year and has pass-rush ability. In the fifth round, those are traits that we like."

Kareem was tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks last season. He finished with 46 tackles (10 for loss) and three forced fumbles. 

"I would just say the effort. I never really give up on a play," Kareem said when asked about his best trait. "Even if I fall down, I’m still trying to get up and make a play. It’s been numerous times where that’s happened in my career, making plays like that. Also, I feel like just my preparation and the time I put into football. Being a coach’s kid, always around football a lot. But, you know, once I was on my own in college, I really took that time to really take it upon myself to really develop my game. I spent a lot of hours in the facility, either late at night, after practice, before practice. I feel like preparation is one of the biggest things for me."

Kareem was a top-100 prospect coming out of Harrison High School in Michigan. He picked Notre Dame over Michigan and Alabama.

Analysts believe he has sound technique and strength, but question his potential to become an NFL starter due to his lack of explosion. 

Kareem tore the labrum in his left shoulder at the end of last season. He underwent surgery over three months ago.

“I’m about 75 percent right now,' he said. "I think I’m 13 weeks out. I’ll be 100 percent ready to go right before training camp.”

Kareem is the third player the Bengals have added on defense in the draft. They signed six defensive players in free agency. 

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