Bengals Gamble On USC Cornerback Shaw After Troubles

 The Bengals picked troubled Southern California defensive back Josh Shaw with their first pick of the fourth round on Saturday.
    
Shaw was suspended by the Trojans for 10 games early in the 2014 season after he suffered ankle injuries by jumping from a second-story balcony while evading police. He then claimed  that he was hurt while trying to save a drowning nephew.
    
Meeting Shaw helped sway the Bengals, defensive backs coach Vance Joseph said.
    
“He’s young,” Joseph said of Shaw, who graduated in 3-1/2 years. “He made a mistake. It’s a one-time deal. He’s a smart guy and a good person. I’m comfortable with Josh as a person. He understands that he made a serious mistake. It won’t happen again. He’s fine.”
    
“It’s the first time in my life I really hit ground bottom,” Shaw said during a conference call. “For me being able to overcome that with my family, it was definitely hard at times. I know that I’m selected (Saturday) in the fourth round primarily because of that incident and me lying. The most important thing I learned is to not even put myself in that position and always be truthful.”
    
The 6-foot, 201-pound Shaw was the 21st pick in the fourth round, 120th overall. Shaw mostly played cornerback at USC but he started three games at free safety in 2013.
    
Following the Shaw pick, the Bengals chose Arizona State defensive end Marcus Hardison with their second pick of the fourth round. They took their second tight end of the draft in the fifth round, Auburn’s C.J. Uzomah. Uzomah caught 22 passes over the past two seasons for the Tigers.
    
The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Hardison is expected to move to defensive tackle and improve a pass rush that was last in the NFL in sacks in 2014.The Bengals consider tackle to be Hardison’s best position, defensive line coach Jay Hayes said.
    
“We hope so,” he said. “That’s where drafting him to play.”
    
Hardison is ready for the challenge, he said in a conference call.
    
“I would feel comfortable because that’s where I think I can excel at the next level,” he said in a conference call.
    
Fresno State safety Derron Smith was Cincinnati’s sixth-round pick, while West Virginia wide receiver Mario Alford was the team’s last pick in the seventh round. The 5-10, 200-pound Smith was first-team All-Mountain West Conference each of the last three seasons and finished his career with 15 interceptions.
    
The 5-8, 180-pound Alford led the Big 12 with 11 touchdown receptions while logging 65 catches for 945 yards.
    
Cincinnati picked offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) and Jake Fisher (Oregon) with its first two picks before taking Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft and Texas Christian inside linebacker Paul Dawson in the first three rounds on Thursday and Friday.
    
Dawson considered himself the best linebacker in this year’s NFL draft, but being just the 14th player picked at his position hasn’t left a scar.
    
“I’m not mad,” Cincinnati’s second pick in the third round and the 99th overall selection said during a press conference Saturday that he shared with his fellow Friday choices, Fisher and Kroft. “Every team has the guy they want. Everything worked out. I feel like I’ll be a Day One starter.”
    
The 6-foot, 235-pound Dawson led the Horned Frogs with 136 tackles, including 20 for losses, in 2014. He also had four interceptions and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big 12.
    
That kind of production is why Dawson feels secure in believing he was the best at his position.
    
“Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “I just have that confidence.”

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