Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard (21) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals sign first round pick Darqueze Dennard

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The Cincinnati Bengals signed the last of their 2014 NFL Draft picks after agreeing to a four-year deal with former Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

Dennard was the 24th selection in the draft after winning the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in his final season with the Spartans that culminated with a win over the Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport the deal is worth $7.98M with a signing bonus of $4.12M and 80 percent is fully guaranteed.

He will compete with Leon Hall, Adam Jones and Terrence Newman for playing time as a rookie, but should at least see time in sub packages at the start of his rookie season.

Hall is coming off an Achilles injury and Jones and Newman are 30 years old or older suggesting Dennard could earn a spot in the starting lineup before the end of the season, or even perhaps by the end of training camp after having an impressive minicamp which ended on Thursday. Dennard has already received an endorsement from Hall who was also a former first round pick out of a Big Ten school.

“I like Darqueze. The only hesitation I have is judging people too early, especially before the pads come out,” Hall said after Thursday’s practice. “But if you look at him in the helmets, I think he’s done everything the coaches have asked him to do. He’s definitely smart enough to make an impact in his first year once he gets more comfortable, knows the defense a little better.”

With Dennard locked up to a deal, the team can now focus on extensions for quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

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