COMMENTARY | The Cincinnati Bengals were extremely active in signing undrafted free agents immediately after Mr. Irrelevant was selected in the 2013 NFL draft, but not all Bengals undrafted free agents are created equal.
There are some big names in the Bengals undrafted free agency class. Eastern Kentucky wide receiver Tyrone Goard and Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree are names that keep popping up. New Mexico Highlands linebacker Jordan Campbell may be the most popular name of all in the undrafted class.
Of all the names Bengals fans should be paying attention to, Southern Illinois linebacker Jayson DiManche trumps them all.
As far as linebackers go, the aforementioned Campbell is the popular name because he was extremely productive in college after leaving USC. Fans want a feel-good-story in the same vein as Vontaze Burfict, but Campbell simply isn't that guy this year.
That guy would be DiManche.
Want proof? Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Bengals gave DiManche the second-highest signing bonus for an undrafted rookie in the NFL this year:
"Besides having a chance to make the roster, the signing bonus that the Bengals offered put them over the top. According to various reports, DiManche's signing bonus is believed to be tied for the second-highest given to an undrafted free agent this year. Broncos linebacker Lerentee McCray received $17,000 while DiManche, Giants receiver Marcus Davis and Buccaneers cornerback Deveron Carr each received $15,000."
There's a reason the Bengals paid so much for the rights to DiManche. He's an elite pass-rushing prospect who has a wicked combination of speed and acceleration that allows him to reach opposing quarterbacks with relative ease.
During the course of his collegiate career, DiManche registered 38 tackles-for-loss and 16.5 total sacks. His numbers last season came in at 49 tackles and eight sacks.
Now, DiManche faces an uphill battle because he played in a 3-4 scheme in college while Cincinnati utilizes a 4-3 front. Still, he has a much better shot than the other undrafted free agents considering the front office was willing to dole out so much cash in his direction, meaning he'll have the backing of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer during his transition to the pros.
It's easy to see why the Bengals wanted a player like DiManche. The linebacker position in Cincinnati over the past few seasons has been miserable in terms of rushing the passer.
Cincinnati attempted to remedy this issue with the selection of Dontay Moch a few years ago, but he's been unable to get on the field and put his skills to use thanks to recurring migraine headaches.
DiManche is Cincinnati's answer to the Moch problem. He has a great shot at making the final 53-man-roster and is the leader of the pack when it comes to Bengals undrafted free agents.
Keep a close eye on him this preseason.
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Cincinnati Bengals