COURTESY OF CINCINNATI BENGALS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Did you think you'd be talking to the media this much today?
"Of course. I always think positive (laughs). It's a good thing, just the way that everything fell. And as I said before, the whole organization – Duke (director of player personnel Duke Tobin), the scouts, ownership — everybody's been on the same page. For as tough of a time as we're all going through (due to COVID-19), this was one of the smoother drafts, I have to be honest."
How much better do you feel now about your linebacker corps coming out of free agency and the draft, compared to last season?
"It's going to help. You know we've got obviously now a bunch of new faces and guys that can do multiple things, so we're super excited about it and looking forward to getting going, whenever that may be."
It's been mentioned, but without the traditional offseason schedule, how valuable was the Senior Bowl to this year's draft?
"I go back, and I think said it the first time we talked today, but the Senior Bowl was invaluable for us. It was an extra five days with these guys, and you got to know the players on both teams — that's the good news. It's not just our (South) team (that we coached), it's both teams. I feel really good about it, and really good about the guys we got."
Every pick seemed to be a captain of their college team or a coach's son. Were you trying to find guys with a certain edge or pedigree?
"Yeah. From the top down, as I said earlier, and going back to free agency. What did we do? We brought playoff guys in — guys that were on playoff teams. And now in the draft, we're adding as many captains and guys with leadership (qualities) as you can add to any organization, which is going to help. That's not the only part of the equation, but it's certainly a big piece."
What can you say about Markus Bailey?
"We had high grades on him, and he was there (in the seventh round) for whatever reason. He's had obviously a little bit of an injury history, but we feel good about it. We feel good about his ability. He's done it all. He's played out in space as a displaced linebacker out covering receivers, he's covered tight ends, he's blitzed – he's really showed up. He's a football junkie. He's one of those guys that's a gym rat — he's always in there. I know those coaches well there (at Purdue), and they've got to kick the kid out of the building. He can do all three (linebacker) positions. Again, he's another guy that brings flexibility and has a passion for the game. He's a good guy that wants to do well, so we're excited to add him to the room and to the team."
What concerns do you have with Bailey coming off the ACL injury? What's his timeline?
"As far as I know, he's going to be OK. But the doctors will have final say on that. I'm not 100 percent sure on the exact timeline, but I do know he's got a passing grade, or else we wouldn't have taken him."
Head coach Zac Taylor talked about the work you did on the linebacker class. Was there more work done there than say other positions this offseason leading up to the draft?
"I mean, maybe. Certainly consciously or unconsciously, you're going to spend maybe some more time on an area of need. But for what has occurred this year with all of us, my face and the coaches have been stuck in front of these computers, and we've had an unbelievable amount of time to watch guys. Not that we wouldn't have done that anyway, but it just seems to have played out that there's a little bit more that way. We feel good about all of them, but we were honing in on this one for sure."