The Cincinnati Bengals entered the fourth round having already addressed every major need on the roster, but a slightly lesser need still existed in the form of depth at the linebacker position.
Scratch that one off the list as well.
At No. 118 overall, Cincinnati opted to select Texas A&M product Sean Porter, who is in the prototypical mold of a Marvin Lewis linebacker the head coach loves.
Porter is stunningly athletic, albeit a bit raw as a prospect, but has the potential to have an impact next season on special teams. More importantly, he could have a big impact a few years down the line.
Let's take a look at how Porter fits with the Bengals.
The Bengals linebacker situation is a bit of a mess—in a good way.
Vontaze Burfict, an undrafted free agent from a year ago, has more than proven he can play effectively as a weak-side linebacker. Many expect him to move over to the middle.
Rey Maualuga is back with the team and can play either in the middle or on the strong side. James Harrison is a new addition who fits well as a strong-side linebacker. Former weak-side linebacker Thomas Howard is still a free agent but could be back with the team.
So where does that leave Porter, you ask?
First of all, we have not even mentioned the outstanding depth Cincinnati already has at the linebacker position thanks to guys like Vincent Rey and Emmanuel Lamur. Porter joins those two in a massive incoming fight for playing time as training camp approaches.
Porter is a raw athlete who uses his agility and quickness to get around blockers and get to the ball-carrier. In the NFL, he best fits as a weak-side linebacker. He's shown great ability, but has a knack for missing tackles and reading the play incorrectly.
Porter followed in the footsteps of Von Miller with the Aggies, but was used as more of a weak-side linebacker than a pass-rushing monster like his predecessor. That said, Porter has plenty of pass-rush ability if the Bengals decided to use him in that capacity.
In other words, Porter is going to make the final roster, but in a backup and special teams capacity (where he could have a huge impact).
Where Porter really shines as a pick here for the Bengals is in his long-term chances with the team. In a few years it's hard to tell how the linebacker position will shake out, but Porter gives the team a potential starter on the weak side down the road.
With the right coaching, which Cincinnati certainly has thanks to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Porter can be molded into an every-down starter—which is exactly why he was the pick here in the fourth round.
In his first season, it's going to be hard for Porter to break into any serious playing time with the team unless there are a variety of injuries at the position,
That said, expect him to have an impact on special teams after beating out some players for a roster spot at what is becoming a very crowded position on the depth chart.
Remember that Cincinnati lost special-teams expert and versatile linebacker Dan Skuta to the San Francisco 49ers in free agency this offseason. Porter's selection could be a way to minimize Skuta's loss while being a better option as an actual starter for years to come.
All pertinent prospect info courtesy of CBS.
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