After a pre-draft visit to Paul Brown Stadium to meet with Bengals coaches a few weeks ago, Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt came away thinking that he might wind up in Cincinnati.
"It's crazy because I did," he said as he laughed with reporters Friday night via conference call.
And he was thrilled when former Cornhuskers quarterback Zac Taylor called to say that the Bengals were selecting him in the second round with the 60th overall pick.
"Honestly, I was so excited that I couldn't even say any words," said Taylor-Britt. "It was a dream come true. My visit there was amazing. Just to even get picked up by a team and especially the Bengals is surreal right now. And the fact that Coach Zac played at the great University of Nebraska makes it even better."
After selecting a defensive back in the first round in Dax Hill, the Bengals sent their second- and sixth-round picks to Buffalo to move up three spots in round two to add more depth to the secondary.
"He's a guy that we identified that we really wanted to come away with, so to risk sitting there for three more picks when maybe some corner-needy teams would jump up and like him as well – we just didn't want to risk that," said Taylor.
Taylor-Britt is 5-11, 196 pounds and matched Hill's time by running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.
"He can really run," said defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. "He's got good size and he's tough, so the more of those guys we get the better we'll be."
Taylor-Britt was a three-year starter at Nebraska and finished with six interceptions and 21 pass break-ups in 41 career games. He was a team captain last season and earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors.
"We see him as an outside corner who can come in here and compete," said Taylor. "We had him in here a couple of weeks ago and love everything he's about. Love his energy, love his athleticism, his size, his speed. He's a really competitive guy. We got great feedback from talking to people about him, so we're really excited about getting Cam over here and getting back to work."
The Montgomery, Alabama native says his competitiveness goes beyond football.
"I just want to be first in everything that I do. I don't care if we're playing badminton, tennis, soccer, or any sport possible," said Taylor-Britt. "I always want to be first and I promise you that once I come in and get in that DB room, they'll feel my presence. If you say that I can't do something, I'll show you that I can. It's always been like that."
That includes trying to cover Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in future Cincinnati practices.
"That's the first thing that I thought about. I can't wait," he said. "Like Coach said, I bring the juice at practice and it's just like the game. Going against receivers like that will help my game so much to where guarding other receivers won't be as hard. I can't wait to get out to practice and actually practice one-on-one against those guys."
Nebraska coaches compare Taylor-Britt to another former Cornhusker, Bengals wide receiver and special teams ace Stanley Morgan.
"When Stanley walks on the field every day he's going to bring energy and competitiveness," Taylor said. "However many days he's been here, he's done those two things every single day. So when you hear that comparison that this is what he's going to be like at practice, that's a great thing. That's what we love. We love guys that bring energy because it's a long season and that's a hard thing to do. So the more guys that can bring that, the better the team becomes."
The Bengals return their top three cornerbacks in Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Eli Apple as well as starting safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. But they didn't hesitate to use their top two draft picks to improve the secondary.
"As a 17-game season goes on and you go into the playoffs, that depth is critical," said Taylor. "How many teams do we see that come into these critical December games and they're down a couple of DBs and they're pulling guys off of the practice squad? It's great competitiveness for all of our guys, but you're going to need that depth over the course of the long seasons that we're going to have to endure."
According to Pro Football Focus, "Taylor-Britt brings some of the best coverage versatility of any defender in the class. His position can be fluid based on your defense."
That gives Anarumo another movable chess piece.
"We play so many different things were there are going to be six and sometimes seven DBs out on the field at one time," he said. "No other position on the field – offense or defense – is going to do that. It's just so critical to have depth there."
After watching the Bengals' run to the Super Bowl, the former high school quarterback is ready to have an immediate impact on Cincinnati's defense.
"Honestly, I feel like I fit great," said Taylor-Britt. "I'm very versatile and they can put me at corner, nickel, or safety so I have the opportunity to come in there and help the defense out and hopefully we get back to that Super Bowl and make something happen."