Bengals take Michigan defensive back in Round 2

After adding depth to the pass rush with their first-round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals followed by hitting on another premium position key to impacting the talented quarterbacks they will face.

The Bengals selected Michigan cornerback DJ Turner II in the second round of the NFL Draft, at No. 60 overall, on Friday night. The pick gives them one of the fastest prospects in this draft class after Turner clocked the best time in the 40-yard dash at the combine at 4.26 seconds, and he’s a guy that adds depth inside and outside.

Cincinnati used its first-round pick to take Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy on Thursday.

“It’s been great when you add at premium positions, and that’s what it takes in this part of the draft is to get those players because they seem to disappear pretty quick,” Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. “So, happy with yesterday and then now get a corner with great speed, and he’s got a good length and has played a lot football, so feel good about it.”

Bengals cornerbacks coach Chuck Burks had met with Turner and spoke with him on multiple occasions, but Turner likely came up on the radar of the scouts last year while they were evaluating Dax Hill. Turner rejoins his former Michigan teammate, a 2022 first-round pick at safety, in Cincinnati and said he looks forward to playing with Hill again.

The two had talked about possibly playing together again in the NFL someday, and as soon as Hill was drafted by the Bengals, Turner started envisioning what it would be like to follow him there. He had followed Cincinnati’s run to the Super Bowl in 2021 but watched every game last year to keep track of what Hill was doing.

“It’s great,” Turner said. “This is the best thing. We’re gonna be the secondary we had back at Michigan. I already talked to him and everything. I can’t wait.”

Turner could be the next Dax Hill-like player for the Bengals as someone that can add depth but step in right away if needed, too, and he could be the starter of the future.

With Chidobe Awuzie coming back from an ACL tear, Cam Taylor-Britt heading into his first full season as a starter and free agent addition Sidney Jones IV bringing some history of injury, Cincinnati needed some depth at the cornerback position. Awuzie also is entering the final year of his contract, and with his future uncertain, Turner could be another long-term option if nothing else besides depth in 2023.

“He can really compete in multiple roles for us and provide depth outside and inside, and we really liked the intangibles he’ll bring to the table as well, so excited to welcome him into the mix,” Taylor said.

The Bengals worked to improve the secondary’s speed last year with the Hill and Taylor-Britt picks and Turner takes it to another level.

Turner said he was trying to break the combine record in the 40-yard dash, which was set by former Bengals wide receiver John Ross at 4.22 in 2019, but he came up just short, though his best 40 time would have been good enough to match Ross’ record.

“When you look around the league and the weapons that so many teams have on offense and the speed that people have, you’ve got to try to match it somehow, and the faster guys we can get certainly is going to give us an advantage,” Anarumo said.

Taylor added that Turner played in a pro-style system at Michigan, which will help him in the transition to the NFL, and his competitiveness also stood out.

The biggest knocks on Turner that came up in the pre-draft process were his limited arm length and weight, but Anarumo said his speed, the way he moves and changes direction and his physicality offset those things.

“He’s got a little bit of ways to go from a weight standpoint, but you can put some weight on him, you can’t make him (run a) 4.2,” Anarumo said. “So that’s something, that explosiveness that he has, and his body, he’s a tough guy, he’s willing to throw his body around so it’s not that he won’t try to tackle or anything like that. So, we feel like we’re getting a complete player.”

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