Bengals sign rookie Giovani Bernard to 4-year deal
Bernard, chosen 37th overall, was the second of the Bengals’ second-round pick and fifth player to be picked up by the team in the 2013 NFL draft. The Bengals had originally received the pick as part of a trade that sent Carson Paler to Oakland two years ago.
The 21-year-old Bernard adds a new dimension to the Bengals’ offensive scheme displaying multiple rushing and receiving skills during his collegiate career. Over just two seasons at North Carolina, Bernard ran for a total of 2481 yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yard per carry. Bernard also posted 92 career receptions for 852 yards and six touchdowns for the Tar Heels.
“Giovani is a dynamic guy, both running the football and catching it,” said Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. “And he was one of North Carolina’s hardest-working guys on the team, so he fits the mold of guys we like – not only good, but extremely hard-working.”
Though Bernard could be considered small at the position, standing at just 5-foot-10, he adds explosiveness to the Bengals’ running game especially on the open field.
“We’re looking at comparisons of (Doug) Martin, and the back down in Jacksonville (Maurice Jones-Drew), and those kind of guys with that kind of stature,” added Lewis. “Everybody sees where they are now, but you also look at physically where they started out, and I think Gio’s got special ability that way.”
Bernard is expected to compete for playing time in the Bengals’ offensive backfield next season. But veteran Green-Ellis isn’t projected to lose his starting job while getting more work on the outside.
The Bengals now have eight of their 10 selections from the 2013 draft class under contract after agreeing to terms with defensive end Margus Hunt (second-round), linebacker Sean Porter (fourth-round), guard Tanner Hawkinson (fifth-round), sixth-round picks running back Rex Burkhead as well as wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, and seventh-rounders offensive tackle Reid Fragel as well as center T.J. Johnson. The only two draft picks that remain unsigned are first-round Tyler Eifert and third-rounder Shawn Williams.