Cincinnati Bengals' Day 3 pick, Year 1 starter: CB Josh Newton

Cincinnati Bengals rookie cornerback Josh Newton could break into a starting role sooner than you may think.
Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Cincinnati Bengals' cornerback room is open for business.

The pressure is on Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner II to stand out as primary starters. Both young defenders have already done that to a degree. But if you're going to excel in defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's complex coverage schemes, you need to have experience, a good head, and the ability to adapt. Taylor-Britt and Turner both have that, and with the 149th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2024 draft, the Bengals added TCU cornerback Josh Newton.

This could be a big deal for the Bengals over time. Last season for the Horned Frogs, Newton allowed 25 catches on 52 targets for 303 yards, 120 yards after the catch, one touchdown, one interception, six pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 64.8. That was Newton's second great season in a row -- in 2022, he allowed an opponent passer rating of 56.4 with five interceptions -- and as the 5' 10⅝", 190-pound Newton played outside cornerback on 61% of his snaps in 2023, he could wind up just about anywhere in Anarumo's defense.

Whether in off or press coverage, Newton brings a formidable playing personality to the field. Newton isn't the fastest defender downfield, and he needs to work on his transitions in coverage, but Anarumo didn't seem concerned about any of that when he discussed Newton after the pick was in.

"(He) plays inside, plays outside, played a bunch of games at nickel (cornerback). He’s had over 30-plus tackles in three consecutive years (and), I believe, seven interceptions in his career. (He) was first team All Big-12 in 2022. So, great kid, great football instincts, awareness — I like everything about his game."

Where and when Newton barges into that defense is still open, but he's got all the skills to do just that.

Doug Farrar