The first round was exciting, the second round was confusing, and in the third round, the Bengals finally found a player to fill their biggest need ,and it was a good one.
After years of neglect and stop-gap players like Kevin Minter and Karlos Dansby, the house of cards that was the linebacker position finally collapsed in 2018. The position was a huge weakness full of players who struggled in coverage, struggled to tackle, and struggled to stay healthy.
Now, the Bengals have made a move to change that by adding North Carolina State linebacker Germaine Pratt with their third-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Speed: The Bengals needed an athletic upgrade at linebacker, and they got it with Pratt. His testing is okay, but his play speed is much better. He is always flying around and never seems to be out of a play. He has the speed to make plays all from sideline to sideline, whether it be in the run game or the pass game.
Tackling: Getting to the ball carrier does not do much good if you can’t make the tackle. The Bengals’ entire defense struggled to make tackles in 2018. Fortunately, they added a linebacker who does not struggle in that area. Pratt is an excellent tackler. He hits hard and high bringing his hips through the tackle for power. Pratt is equally skilled as a tackler in the open field or in the gap.
Pratt is very good coverage linebacker, which is something that the Bengals lack. He has the skill to play effectively in zone coverage and the athletic ability to cover tight ends and big slots. This fills a big need for the Bengals who have struggled with underneath coverage.