Why the Cincinnati Bengals Were Sweating Out the Run Up to Their Second-Round Pick

The Bengals get a player at their biggest position of need and one who has championship, leadership, and NFL pedigree.

CINCINNATI – The first round of the NFL Draft could not have gone any better for the  Cincinnati Bengals, with quarterbacks, wide receivers, and a tight end — positions they weren’t going to target — making up 10 of the first 13 picks.

The start of Day 2 was the exact opposite.

With defensive tackle their primary focus, head coach Zac Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo stared uneasily with strained eyes at one name on their board as others disappeared in a flurry of activity.

Bengals Draft Defensive Tackle Kris Jenkins in Second Round

Four defensive tackles went in a span of five picks from 35 to 39, but Taylor said he was thrilled to see the University of Michigan’s Kris Jenkins still available at No. 49 because the wait was nerve-racking.

“Especially when you’re staring at his name for a really long time,” Taylor said. “These are seven-minute picks. They felt like 27.”

“I was squinting for an hour,” Anarumo added.

While drafting a right tackle of the future was the team’s top priority and addressed Thursday with the selection of Georgia’s Amarius Mims at No. 18, securing a run-stopping defensive tackle to replace DJ Reader was the biggest immediate need.

Most of the defensive tackles that went before Jenkins were more pass-rushing 3-techniques.

“He’s a tough, tough run defender,” Anarumo said. “He’s got great football instincts. He brings leadership, he’s been a captain, he was a second-team All-American. Just a tough guy overall and plays the game the right way.

“There’s the Aaron Donalds of the world and there’s everybody else,” Anarumo added. “You’ve got to start with something that they do well. We’d rather start with ‘hey, they’re a great run defender and we’ll build on their pass rush.’ That’s what fits us best right now.”

A three-year starter at Michigan and a captain on last year’s 15-0 national championship team, Jenkins’ father and uncle both had long NFL careers playing defensive line.

Kris Jenkins Sr. was a second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2001, and he played 108 games with 102 starts in 10 seasons.

Cullen Jenkins entered the league as an undrafted free agent and played 184 games with 137 starts in 13 seasons, winning a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 2010.

“He acts like a pro,” Taylor said. “A, he carries himself the right way because that’s just the type of person he is. And B, he’s educated the right way on the process. He knows what to expect.

“But you’ve got to give credit to him,” Taylor added. “He uses every ounce that he’s been blessed with, and he’s developed himself. That’s what shows up. You’re gonna get a consistent player on every single down. And that goes a long way. We’ve got a lot of belief in his upside.”

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