32. Cincinnati Bengals – Trae Waynes, CB
2019 Stats: 14 games played, 8 passes defended, 2 FF, 1 INT; signed three-year/$42 million deal
When a team holds the No. 1 pick in the draft, it typically means they have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the football. The Bengals are no exception, as they have glaring holes all over the field from quarterback on down. With Joe Burrow expected to immediately step in and attempt to reverse Cincinnati’s fortune, the Bengals took to free agency to help sure up the defensive side of the ball.
The Bengals spent over $120 million on defensive free agents this offseason, with the bulk of the cash going to Waynes, interior lineman D.J. Reader, and former Saints safety Vonn Bell. The Waynes signing was an intriguing move given that he never lived up to his fully realized potential as a former No. 11 overall pick.
The Bengals are all too familiar with highly-drafted corners not panning out after seeing mediocre returns on guys like William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, and Dre Kirkpatrick. The trio of former first-round Cincy corners have played a total of 17 seasons in the NFL, and the highest approximate value (Pro Football Reference’s all-encompassing number to project a player’s value) any of them recorded in a single season was 6 — posted three consecutive times by Kirkpatrick from 2015-2017 (for comparisons sake, up until last year Patrick Peterson had never recorded lower than a 9 AV in any of his first eight seasons in the league).
It will be interesting to see what the Bengals saw in Waynes, but he certainly won’t single-handedly transform the fifth-worst pass defense from a year ago (according to DVOA).
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