Chick Ludwig
Chick Ludwig

For the past 30 years, Chick Ludwig has been one of the Miami Valley’s most popular sports columnists, the past twelve as the Bengals beat writer for the Dayton Daily News. He retired from the DDN in October of 2009, and currently writes a weekly Bengals blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer and is the Bengals correspondent for the The Sporting News. A former voting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, Ludwig is a journalism graduate of Ohio State University.


The Bengals simply did what they had to do … get younger in the secondary where aging veteran cornerbacks Terence Newman, Leon Hall and Adam “Pacman” Jones are fighting Father Time.

CINCINNATI — With the 24th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals stuck to their game plan and plucked the best player available.

They looked to the defensive side of the football and got the perfect marriage — an impact player at a position of need in Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

Yes, THAT Darqueze Dennard. The guy who burned the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship. The guy who frustrated the Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl. The guy who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in college football.

The wheeling ‘n’ dealing Cleveland Browns grabbed the spotlight, drafting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 22 after snatching Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8. Now the Browns have two shutdown corners in Joe Haden and Gilbert, plus their franchise quarterback.

The Bengals simply did what they had to do … get younger in the secondary where aging veteran cornerbacks Terence Newman, Leon Hall and Adam “Pacman” Jones are fighting Father Time.

“(Bengals head coach) Marvin Lewis loves physical corners and this kid (Dennard) loves a physical football game,” NFL analyst Ray Lewis said on ESPN. “When he was still on the board, the Bengals had to take him.”

ESPN’s Jon Gruden sang Dennard’s praises.

“He’ll mash you,” Gruden said, “and he’s very good as a bump-and-run corner. There are no gimme throws against Darqueze Dennard. Marvin Lewis had to be shocked that he’s there. He’s a nice pickup for Cincinnati. He’s a disciplined corner. He’s got all the intangibles you’re looking for — preparation, detail … they’re very important to Dennard. He’s a mature, up-and-coming star in the NFL.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. added: “He’s not the athlete or the return man Justin Gilbert is, but he’s a better overall football player as a technician in the secondary. I think it’s one of the better picks of the first round with the Bengals getting Dennard at 24 when he could’ve gone (in the top 10).”

Rather than attending the NFL Draft in New York City, Dennard was with his grandparents in Dry Branch, Ga., where he hosted a cookout for kids.

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“I wasn’t worried (about getting drafted in the first round),” Dennard told the Cincinnati media. “I left it in God’s hands. I’ve watched the Bengals on film a lot. I like (the comparison to Leon Hall). He’s very consistent.”

Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther attended Dennard’s campus workout and called him another Leon Hall.

“We can ease him in,” Guenther said. “He can play the slot because he’s a good tackler.”

Marvin Lewis said the Bengals had trade offers, but wanted to keep the 24th pick.

“(Dennard) has a good feel for the game,” Lewis said. “I’m impressed with how he carries himself. He makes us better.”