American Football

Breaking down the Bengals’ selection of DJ Ivey


Florida State v Miami
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The Bengals go back to defense and grab their second cornerback of the draft in the seventh round.

Just when it looked like the Cincinnati Bengals would avoid defense with all their picks on Sunday, they spent their seventh-round pick on Miami Hurricanes cornerback DJ Ivey.

The team’s lack of depth at the position is well documented, as Chidobe Awuzie is coming off a season-ending injury, and he’s entering the last year of his contract. The Bengals used their second-round pick on Michigan cornerback DJ Turner II.

Ivey is a versatile defensive back, who played in the slot, on the outside, and took some snaps at safety as well. He has the size and strength to not get overwhelmed by physical receivers, and he’s fast enough to stay hip-to-hip with receivers down the field but lacks elite speed needed to recover if he’s beaten deep.

He finished the 2023 season with a 76.2 coverage grade from PFF while recording two interceptions and four passes knocked down. He allowed 26 receptions on 44 targets and only allowed three touchdowns.

In his career with the Hurricanes, he logged 127 tackles, 17 pass breakups, six interceptions, and four tackles for loss.

He came to Cincinnati on a pre-draft visit with the Bengals earlier in April.

What he brings to the Bengals

More depth: The Bengals needed cornerback depth heading into the draft, and now they have it. The Bengals signed Sidney Jones IV in free agency and then they drafted Turner and Ivey to finish filling out the position. Ivey likely won’t see the field very often, unless it’s on special teams, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be important. He could work his way up the depth chart or fill in if there’s an injury.

Speed: Again, the Bengals grabbed a guy who can run. He doesn’t have the same RAS as Turner, but he comes with a respectable score of 7.87 out of 10.

Why the Bengals picked Ivey

Competition: Outside of Awuzie, Cam Taylor-Britt, and Mike Hilton, the Bengals cornerback room is filled with backups and rookies. Ivey will help push the veterans who aren’t starting to step up their games, and he’ll also help make sure there is a next man up, just in case someone goes down with an injury.

Special teams: It’s rare that a day-three selection steps up and starts his rookie season, especially at a premium position like cornerback. The way seventh-round picks typically see the field are as members of special teams units. Ivey will likely begin his career working for Simmons on the punt and kickoff teams.

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