Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer loves oversized safeties. He grabbed another by selecting the tallest and heaviest safety in the draft with the final pick in the fifth round Saturday, the one the Bengals got in the Keith Rivers trade.
Boise State safety George Iloka (6-4, 225 pounds) lives on the fence between safety and linebacker, but brings the heavy pop coveted by the Zimmer defenses.
"I really got excited seeing him do a lot of things we like to do on tape," Marvin Lewis said. "He's been a very, very good hitter. He's going to have to learn to play the game and break down and make some tackles. Once in a while he gets out of control because he's going so fast. But I really love everything about him."
The lovefest originated from his coaches at Boise who raved about the versatility of a guy who started in nickel and dime packages, as well free safety, strong safety and corner during his career. But the instant reaction to the pick is Iloka's side-speed ratio in a changing NFL infused with big-body tight ends running the seams.
"I can cover big tight ends that are athletic," said Iloka, who ran a 4.66 40 at the scouting combine. "You need someone that can match up with them."
At 17, Iloka graduated early from high school, was the starting safety for the Broncos and named a Freshman All-American. During his four-year career he finished with 232 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and seven interceptions. Of course, as has been the case at Boise, he also took part in a 50-3 record over his four seasons on the blue turf.
The Bengals did install new turf this offseason, unfortunately, it's not blue. An adjustment Iloka will gladly make with his new team.
"Oh yeah, on to greener pastures," he said.