Tag Archives: Clayton Fejedelem

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 NFL Draft /UDFA recap

Where would the Bengals go in this year’s draft after winning the AFC championship? Traditionally, the draft has yielded fine results for the franchise. In this century, the Bengals’ front office/scouts have drafted a number players who either made the Pro Bowl for them or other teams. In 2001 alone, they drafted T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Justin Smith and Chad Johnson. In 2003, they drafted Carson Palmer.

In 2006, the team drafted two eventual Pro Bowlers in Johnathan Joseph (1st Round, 24th overall) and Andrew Whitworth (2nd Round, 55th overall). Their fourth round pick, Domata Peko, played until he was 36 years old and all three players played at least until that age, with Whitworth recently retiring as a Super Bowl champion at the age of 40.

Cincinnati Bengals
     
Round,
Selection,
PlayerSchoolDN Big Board
Rank/
Grade
‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (31)
Daxton Hill
S-Nickel/Michigan
11/1st Round
Hill, basically a starting nickel at Michigan on base downs, could get an opportunity to fulfill a variety of sub-package roles early in Cincinnati. Could they even experiment with him as a corner?
2 (60)
Acquired from Tampa Bay via the Bills
Cam Taylor-Britt
CB/Nebraska
53/2nd Round
Taylor-Britt is yet another fast, instinctive corner with safety experience. DC Lou Anarumo is cooking up different coverage/pressure concepts in his living room as we speed.
3 (95)
Zachary Carter
DE-DT/Florida
145/3rd Round
Carter's ability to slide up-and-down the defensive line for the Gators provided a blueprint for the Bengals. They could use him as a sub-package three-technique on third downs.
4 (136)
Cordell Volson
OT/North Dakota State
417/5th Round
Volson has the size, experience on the edges to become a factor as another swing offensive lineman for the Bengals, who have made it a priority to increase its interior offensive line depth in this year's draft.
5 (166)
Acquired from Arizona via Philadelphia through Houston via Chicago
Tycen Anderson
S-Nickel/Toledo
163/3rd Round
Anderson is yet another defensive back whose overall psyche never seemed to change when challenged inside. He played safety, corner and nickel for the Rockets and handled all of the roles adequately. He is the third Bengals defensive back with 4.3 speed (4.36).
7 (252)
Jeffrey GunterDE-OLB/Coastal Carolina178/4th RoundAt the beginning of the year, many expected Gunter to be a second-or-third-round draft pick, but he ends up potentially being a steal in the seventh round. He took a step back as a senior, but did show inside rush potential in the postseason.
2022 UDFA signings
Rank PlayerPositionsSchoolGradeRoundNasty’ Take
147Devin CochranOTGeorgia Tech, Vanderbilt5.7443rd RoundBlessed with an 86-inch wingspan, could Cochran forge his way onto the Bengals roster this summer? If so, he’ll have to beat talented backup OTs D’Ante Smith (one start) or Isaiah Prince (four starts).
387Shermari JonesRBCoastal Carolina5.095th RoundAt 215 pounds, there is a measure of upside running some of the two-back outside search or stretch concepts many teams employ. With the measure of acceleration he possesses in a 20-to-30-yard stretch, it is not out of the question that he could return kicks.
460Jaivon HeilighWRCoastal Carolina4.835th RoundHis route discipline and body control are aided by 32” arms. The first-team All-Sun Belt WR finished his career with 22 TDs.
462Clarence HicksLBUTSA4.825th RoundHicks often rushed off the edge and defeated tackles as a pass rusher one snap before walking out over the slot on the next play. Hicks was one of the most productive defenders in C-USA football.
474Jack SorensonWRMiami (Ohio)4.785th RoundThe strength is not where it needs to be, hence the continued durability issues. When he’s been healthy, Sorenson was one of the most dangerous receivers in the MAC. He finished with over 1,400 yards receiving this past season.
499Carson WellsOLBColorado4.686th RoundWells has all of the physical tools to perhaps work himself into a role as a stand-up Rush OLB. In 2021, he began to speed up the process as a rusher. Wells finished with 39 career tackles for losses.
532Ben BrownOC-OGOle Miss4.5676th RoundSnaps were a problem at center in 2020 before going down to injury. He has the size and overall quickness to perhaps find an interior role.
590Kendric PryorWRWisconsin4.286th RoundPryor didn’t get a lot of opportunities in a run-based offense, but finished his career with 99 receptions. He also averaged over 10 yards per carry on 40 rushes.
612Tariqious TisdaleDE-DTOle Miss4.1757th RoundTisdale runs in the 4.5-range at 290 pounds and began to flash in 2020. He never took the next step in 2021, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
677Stewart ReeseOG-OTFlorida, Mississippi State3.877th RoundReese, a multi-year starter at two different schools, is a people mover who needs to maintain his weight.
685Brendan Radley-HilesSWashington, Oklahoma3.7217th RoundRadley-Hiles exhibits a short memory and often came back from mistakes as a nickel back at two different stops. Is the size going to translate?
Delonte HoodCBPeru St, Toledo, Glenville StateN/AN/AHood posted eight interceptions at Glenville State in 2019. He ran in the 4.4-range during the postseason and registered eight passes defensed this past season.
Jordan WilsonTEFSU, UCLAN/AN/AAfter flashing early in his career, Wilson resurfaced at FSU. He has size, but can he win as a route runner?
Justin RiggTEKentuckyN/AN/AOne of the best blocking TEs in the draft, Rigg finished with 50 receptions in his career. He could potentially surprise and make the team. He finished with four TDs in 2021.
Cal AdomitisLSPittsburghN/AN/AHe is satisfactory in coverage and generally capable of getting players on the ground if needed. It’s all about the details for Adomitis, who is often seen replicating his short-snapping motion before putting his hands on the ball prior to field goals. He handled even fronts with late twists well dating back to 2019.
Desmond NoelOGFAUN/AN/AHas started at the LG spot. 31 reps at 225 pounds on his Pro Day. He will play through pain. Just 290 pounds. gets caught leaning at the point of attack in the run game (Marshall '20).

It wasn’t until the next decade began that the team got back on a roll, with three of its first five selections in 2010 becoming eventual Pro Bowlers. That group included tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. But they made up for the two-year drought by also drafting Geno Atkins in the fourth round (120th overall). Atkins became an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro.

And in 2011?

That draft yielded seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green and three-time Pro Bowler Any Dalton. Both players recently signed one-year deals at the ages of 33 and 34, respectively.

In 2012, Bengals first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick never made a Pro Bowl, but played through the age of 32. In fact, no players from this draft class ever made a Pro Bowl, but at least five players made it to the age of 30 years old in the NFL.

There have no doubt been misses along the way as well. The next four drafts (2013-2016) yielded just one Pro Bowler, Tyler Eifert (2013), and many of the team’s draft picks flamed out relatively quickly. However, in that same span, the team drafted a number of solid NFL starters that have found success either in Cincinnati or otherwise. Those names include, but are not limited to: Giovani Bernard (2nd Round, 37th overall, 2013), Rex Burkhead (6th Round, 190th overall, 2013), C.J. Uzomah (5th Round, 157th overall, 2015), William Jackson III (1st Round, 24th overall, 2016) and Tyler Boyd (2nd Round, 55th overall, 2016). A seventh-round pick from the 2016 draft class, Clayton Fejedelem, has carved out a respectable career.

In 2017, the team found a building block in Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon (2nd Round, 48th overall). Carl Lawson secured a payday with the New York Jets last offseason and Pro Bowl kicker Jake Elliott (5th Round, 153rd overall) has won a Super Bowl with the Eagles.

The jury is still out on the most recent drafts, but the selections of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Evan McPherson all significantly contributed to the team’s Super Bowl appearance this past season.

Thus, the likelihood of this year’s draft class producing at least two quality starters remains possible. The Bengals added plenty of speed in the secondary, drafting three defensive backs who ran in the sub-4.4-range. Can Daxton Hill beat out incumbent nickel back Mike Hilton for the starting job? If not, then what about Jessie Bates III back deep along with either Hill or fifth-round choice Tycen Anderson. Depth was added along the offensive line the entire offseason and didn’t stop in the draft. NDSU’s Cordell Volson could realistically remain outside, but may very well provide depth on the interior. Zachary Carter put up nine sacks in 2021, but he’s been productive over a two-year period. This team understood that other than on the offensive line, there weren’t many needs on that side of the ball.

Q&A with Cincinnati Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem

Long before Cincinnati Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem made it to the NFL, he made quite a statement in his final season for the Fighting Illini.  After starring at St. Xavier (an NAIA school in Illinois), Fejedelem decided to walk-on at Illinois in the spring of 2013. In his final season in the Big Ten, he led the conference with 140 tackles. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with the former high school wrestler during the week of the 2016 East-West Shrine game to find out what drives him day-to-day.

Corey: What’s been the best experience so far this week in terms adjusting to these players after having such a good year in the Big Ten?

Fejedelem: It’s nice coming down and getting the top players in the nation from all over the nation. So you get to kinda test your worth
against a lot more conferences, a lot more different styles of play, different offenses and it’s pretty cool.  The coolest thing coming down here was getting the opportunity to talk to all those different scouts and all the guys you’ll see in the future.

Corey:  When you look at your game and how it evolved, would you say one of the more underrated aspects was just how quick you triggered forward in some of the quick game stuff when you were in man coverage (like against Minnesota)?  Talk about your eyes and how you see things on the field.

Fejedelem: Absolutely.  I take pride in preparing myself for the game, watching the film so I get out there and it’s muscle memory.  You only need to see a few keys and you already know the play that’s coming.  I take pride in the speed that I play the game and I think that’s one of my biggest assets.

Corey:  It seemed like there was competition between you and your other safety-mate (No. 3 Taylor Barton) when it came to just getting to the football and breaking on the football.  Was there a little inter-competition between you and him?

Fejedelem:  Me and Taylor Barton are pretty good friends off the field.  In practice, we’re always messing with each other on who can get their hands on more footballs and in the game it’s no different. That’s how you get paid..so.  He came up on top with a few more interceptions than I did this year.

Corey: You had more tackles though.

Fejedelem: I had a lot more tackles. There were throwing his way because there were scared to throw my way.  That’s the reason (laughs).

Corey:  That’s what I like to hear.  Finally, you kind of remind me of one of my former teammates, the late Pat Tillman (Arizona Cardinals, 1998-01),  in your tenacity and ability to get to the football. Also in your ability to play special teams.  Who do you compare yourself to at the next level?

Fejedelem: Currently playing, probably Eric Weddle (Baltimore Ravens). He’s out there and he’ s kind of a savage.  I like his style
of play; he’s very scrappy.  If I’m going back some years, I try to model my game as kind of a hybrid Ed Reed/Brian Dawkins.
Reed’s ballhawking ability and he wasn’t afraid to stick his neck in there. And Brian Dawkins was just an overall freak.  I try to hybrid
that.

Corey: Talk about your work in the weight room. What are your expectations in the short shuttle and other testing? Your coaches have talked about you being one of the faster players on the team. Tell us a little bit about your workout numbers, some of the stuff you’ve put up and what are your goals for the postseason?

Fejedelem:  Right.  I was one of the workout warriors as our head strength coach (former Illinois head strength coach Aaron Hillman) would say. I just enjoy the grind; I really do.  I think the more you prepare yourself in the offseason the better it’s gonna be.  Even if you are the most talented player all the extra work is gonna make you that much better. I put the extra time in with the squats, the benching.  I did pretty well last summer with my 225-lb test; I’m shooting a little bit higher.  I think that test was 22 (reps); right around there.  I’m shooting for that 38-inch vertical; right around there.  And I’d like to get under a four (4.0) in the shuttle and 40 (yard dash), try to run that high 4.4.

Corey: That’s awesome man.  We just want to wish you continued success and thank you for your time. Make it to the league.

Fejedelem: Thank you.  Appreciate it.

—Corey Chavous, 2016 East-West Shrine practices