Lou Anarumo, Defensive coordinator and Tem Lukabu Linebackers coach
Initial comments ...
Anarumo: “We’re thrilled to get Germaine — a guy that we were coveting early in the day and kept tracking as the draft went, and it seems like this year, even more so, unpredictable. We’re happy and pleased we got him — a guy, I believe had over 100 tackles last year, four interceptions in his career and six sacks last year. He can provide a little ball disruption, as well as being a really good linebacker. We’re very happy to get him.”
When you say coveting him a little early in the day, was he in the same pool of players as Drew Sample?
Anarumo: “Just keeping an eye on him more than anything, to be honest. We were just uncertain of how it was all going to shake out. So, really, more just keeping an eye on him and see where he fell. We’re pleased he fell to us.”
What is his most natural spot?
Anarumo: “Off-the-ball linebacker, inside. That’s the other thing we liked about him — he’s a multiple-position guy. We feel like he can play all three spots. He’s a guy that brings size, speed and very long arms, which is good for a linebacker to shed blocks. (He has) over 33-inch arms, if I’m not mistaken. That aids in allowing him to be a multiple-position guy. We’ll put him where he best fits, and where he best fits us as a defense.”
Check out some of the top images from the Bengals' 2019 3rd round pick, LB Germaine Pratt from NC State.
Was he a safety initially, or was he always a linebacker?
Lukabu: “He started as a safety in college, yes. And he just naturally grew, but his athleticism didn’t leave. That’s another reason to be really excited about him.”
Anarumo: “It’s funny, as Tem mentioned, back in college, and you’re recruited, that’s what you did with players. You took tight ends and made them defensive ends, and some grow into defensive tackles and offensive tackles, and that’s what you wanted them to do. Safeties that grow into linebackers, and the fact that this kid has done that, shows you what kind of an athlete he was — that he was a DB, and he’s played there — so he has good coverage skills. And in the league we play in today, that just really helps him and will help us.”
Is he a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash kind of guy?
Anarumo: “He was a little bit better than that at the Combine, yeah.”
A 4.5-second 40-yard dash guy?
Anarumo: “I believe he was 4.55.”
And he’s over 240 pounds?
Lukabu: “240 pounds, and on a given day, over 240. And he doesn’t look like it — that’s the other great thing about him — he looks amazing, he’s well put together, and he’s going to come in here and work really hard.”
Is it fair to say he could be an all three-down player?
Anarumo: “I don’t see that being a problem for the guy. Again, that size and the length is what you like for in guys to be able to cover tight ends or running backs out of the backfield. We’ll see. He’s going to be a rookie, and like every rookie player — whatever position it is — you want to see what they’re able to do early and do well early, so that they don’t lose confidence. You want to get them going in the right direction. We’ll see where things are going, and we’ll put him where we can most benefit him and us at the same time.”
Were you pleased with his football IQ?
Lukabu: “Yeah, I spent a good amount of time with him on campus, and I was really excited once I got to talk football with him. The other thing about this kid is he’s just a mature kid. He’s lived life, he’s seen some things, but he’s mature beyond his years, and he’ll fit our room very well.”
Did he play any special teams?
Anarumo: “He did. They didn’t ask him to do as much recently because he was such a major contributor on defense. He definitely has that experience and we’re excited about that part too.”
His stats say he only started one game? Is that correct?
Anarumo: “He was the starter for a year. He’s played a bunch of football. I think he had over 240 tackles in his career. The transition from defensive back to linebacker takes some time. When he’s out there, he was a real instinctive football player.”
The national consensus was that the linebacker class this year was the two Devin’s, then a drop-off. How close do you grade Jermaine to those two Devin’s?
Anarumo: “I’ll address it first. They all do things a little bit differently. They all bring certain skillsets. This kid is bigger than those two guys. This kid has longer arms than those two guys. He’s about a 10th of a second slower (in the 40-yard dash). He’ll bring the same physical mindset that those two other players have. I think there are measurables, but this kid is bigger and longer, which aids to playing linebacker at this level. He may have a few more things than those other two guys.
Lukabu: “Coach is right. The main thing is the track record. As far as that goes, he got his opportunity at a program where on defense you wait your turn. He ended up doing that and it worked out for him.”
How is his tackling? Will he stick his nose in there in the running game?
Lukabu: “I think he’s really good because of his quickness, size and length. It allows him to take advantage of his tools and make a lot of plays that way. I’m not concerned about that at all.”
Anarumo: “He’s a tough, alpha type of guy. You get that feeling when you shake his hand; he looks like an NFL linebacker. He’s going to make a good impact for us.”
Was there any uneasiness, waiting two rounds to get your first guy?
Anarumo: “No, not at all. We’re here as a group with Zac (Taylor). We did what’s best for the Bengals. This was the pick for us on defense. No stress at all. We have guys that are working their butts off in this building now that we feel really good about. This guy adds to that. No stress at all.”
What comparisons can you make to anyone in the league?
Lukabu: “I think time will tell, to be fair to the kid. I’m just excited that he brings the tools that we’re looking for collectively for the team, the defense and the linebackers room. I’m really excited to go to work with him.”
Linebacker, North Carolina State University
What has the wait been like for you over the last two nights?
“It’s been long, I’m not going to lie. But it is what it is. I’m ready to get to work.”
Did you know the Bengals had significant interest in you?
“Yeah. Coach Tem (linebackers coach Tem Lukabu) worked me out and we had dinner together. I thought we had a good connection. I always had a good vibe with him. I’m pretty sure he told me that if I was still available, he was going to take me.”
Did he tell you around when, or what round?
“No, he didn’t say around when. But he said if I was around, he was going to pick me up.”
You made a transition from safety to linebacker in college. Was that you going to the coaches or them coming to you about it, or maybe just the way your body evolved?
“Basically, in high school I played anything. I played in the box and played deep. Then when I got to N.C. State, it was actually a 4-3. So I went into the linebacker room the first day when I first got there. Then they went to a 4-2-5 (defensive formation), and I went to safety. The transition wasn’t hard. I always knew in order for me to be successful going into the NFL, I had to switch positions because I knew I wasn’t going to be a safety. I wouldn’t even play free safety in the middle of the field. I thought I would be a more in-the-box player.”
Which linebacker position are you most comfortable at?
“Either one — inside, outside. I’m versatile. I can (play) man-to-man on the tight end if I need to, man-to-man on the running back if I need to. I can do it all.”
How do you feel about playing special teams?
“I feel great. For me to be in a star role and be an impact player, whether it be special teams, then I’ll come in there and work to try to get better each day. I think special teams would be useful for me to have an impact on the game.”
Have you met Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo yet?
“No, I haven’t. I probably have. I don’t know. I probably have.”
Was that dinner with Bengals linebackers coach Tem Lukabu after your pro day, or was it on a visit?
“It was before the pro day. And I had a formal meeting with him at the combine.”
What do you think your biggest strength is? What do you bring to the table, in terms of best thing you can do at the linebacker position?
“Like I said, I’m versatile. I can cover tight ends, I can cover running backs, I can play inside and outside the box. I can do a lot. I’m fast, physical, violent, and I play with a high motor. I try to get to the ball, that’s what I do. I’m trying to elevate my game all the time, and learn even more from my coach.”
The last couple of years, your defense at N.C. State has had a lot of guys go to the pros. You guys are establishing a pretty solid little legacy. Are you proud to be a part of that?
“I’m great at being proud of that. In my (recruiting) class in 2014, we tried to start a foundation and start a culture. So 2014 was a huge class for us. I redshirted, so it took me an extra year there. So I’d say yeah, it was huge for us.”
How many people are there with you right now at your draft party?
“I have 20 or so.”
Is it a big relief to get this out of the way tonight?
“I’m just grateful to call myself a Bengal. I’m ready to learn everything I need to learn to be successful, especially at linebacker.”
Is there anyone in the league you like to pattern your game after?
“When I was young, I loved watching Ed Reed and his ball-hawk mentality. He brought a lot to the table. Now I don’t really watch much. I’m my own person at this point. I’m not worried about what other people view me as.”