The Luke Fickell era ended this offseason, closing a very successful chapter in the Cincinnati Bearcats’ history. New head coach Scott Satterfield will have his work cut out for him after a largely uninspiring tenure at Louisville, but the hope is he’ll harken back to his glory days at Appalachian State. We’re diving into the slew of 2024 NFL Draft prospects who will carry the Bearcats in 2023.
Cincinnati Bearcats Roster and Depth Chart Changes
Head coaching changes always lead to a slew of departures. Cincinnati saw 26 players enter the transfer portal, with six yet to find new homes. Satterfield brought in 23 players, including four from Louisville and quarterback Emory Jones.
Jones will be the most impactful of the bunch as a former five-star recruit. Once slated to star at Ohio State, Jones found little success at both Florida and Arizona State before reaching Cincinnati. However, Satterfield has a history of creating effective rushing attacks with both quarterbacks and running backs that Jones should benefit from.
A large part of this Bearcats roster will be dependent on Satterfield’s additions. As many as eight transfers may be starting on offense, and another six could carve out an early defensive role.
Cincinnati NFL Draft Prospects
Dee Wiggins, WR
There’s not much recent production to evaluate Dee Wiggins with, who caught only four passes at Louisville in 2022 and 62 receptions over 27 games at Miami before again transferring. However, Wiggins’ physical traits have him on evaluators’ watchlists for the fall. At 6’3″, 195 pounds, and expected to run in the 4.5 range, Wiggins has the opportunity to show he’s a more NFL-ready prospect than just a good athlete who could develop.
Luke Kandra, G
Following Satterfield from Louisville to Cincinnati, Luke Kandra could be a mainstay for the program thanks to having three years of eligibility. However, with great size at 6’4″ and 320 pounds and experience at both guard positions, Kandra will have the chance to be drafted in 2024 if he produces well this season.
He played in 21 games in 2021 and 2022, showing good play strength as a run blocker. Improving his pass sets and dealing with speed rushers who get inside his frame can massively help Kandra improve his stock as a late-round possibility.
Jowon Briggs, DT
Thickly built at 6’1″ and 320 pounds, it’s no surprise Jowon Briggs splits time between playing as a nose tackle and a run-stuffing 4-3 DT. However, Briggs is not consistent in using his strength or leverage advantage, failing to explode out of his stance to anchor when interior blockers crash down on him. He has a good motor and holds his own well enough to respect as a gap-eater, but Briggs’ limitations as a pass rusher mean he’s a camp invite type of prospect.
Dontay Corleone, DT
A younger prospect on Cincinnati’s defense is Dontay Corleone. Though he splits time with Briggs on the interior, Corleone more effectively uses his 305-pound frame to embrace contact and seal off lanes for linebackers to crash through. He’s more than capable of holding his own against double teams.
The trade-off is that Corleone is not much of a pass-rush threat. He has an upright build that limits his agility and movement while in space. A more balanced stance and weight distribution could help give him more explosiveness and raise his ceiling.
Deshawn Pace, LB
Built more like a safety than a true linebacker at 6’1″ and closer to 200 pounds, Deshawn Pace was exposed a bit in 2022 as his role shifted him into the box more. As expected with his size, Pace plays with good speed and is an aggressive but effective tackler. Like his brother, Ivan Pace Jr., Pace is a hard hitter who makes his presence felt.
However, if he changes positions, Pace will struggle in areas that matter. He’s not comfortable in coverage and struggles taking angles when in pursuit of ball carriers. There’s room to improve, and a more well-rounded game can get Pace drafted.
Cincinnati Bearcats Schedule
- Week 1
- Week 2
Sept. 2: vs. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
- Week 3
Sept. 9: at Pitt Panthers
- Week 4
Sept. 16: vs. Miami (OH) RedHawks
- Week 5
Sept. 23: vs. Oklahoma Sooners
- Week 6
Sept. 29: at BYU Cougars
- Week 7
- Week 8
Oct. 14: vs. Iowa State Cyclones
- Week 9
Oct. 21: vs. Baylor Bears
- Week 10
Oct. 28: at Oklahoma State Cowboys
- Week 11
Nov. 4: vs. UCF Knights
- Week 12
Nov. 11: at Houston Cougars
- Week 13
Nov. 18: at West Virginia Mountaineers
- Week 14
Nov. 25: vs. Kansas Jayhawks
- Week 15
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