2014 NFL Draft: Bengals earn B+ for Darqueze Dennard pick

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Draft coverage: Draft picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Mock drafts | News

NEW YORK -- With the 24th pick in the first round, the Cincinnati Bengals select Michigan St. cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

Dennard is considered the most physical cornerback in the 2014 draft class, and should vie for playing time from the moment he steps onto an NFL field. A three-year starter at Michigan St., his senior season was his best. Dennard was a consensus All-American and Thorpe Award winner -- a first in school in history -- who allowed just three receptions (on 31 attempts) of 15 yards or more all season.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco gave the Bengals a B+ for the pick.

And unlike some cornerbacks in this draft, Dennard has shown consistency throughout his college career; as a junior in 2012, he had 10 pass breakups and three interceptions. He's also a willing tackler, especially in the running game, a trait that can't be overlooked in today's NFL, even if running backs, in general, have become undervalued.

If there's a criticism against Dennard, it's that he's not a burner (he ran 4.51 at the combine) and that he tends to get a little handsy with receivers downfield. In college, that's perfectly legal; in the NFL, he'll be flagged every time. That said, he's an outstanding cover corner, with good ball skills who is seldom beat deep.

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