The Bengals might have just bagged one of the steals of the draft. Cincinnati used the 24th pick of the NFL Draft's sixth round on Ole Miss wide receiver Cody Core, whose blend of size and speed make him one of the more intriguing under-the-radar pass catchers in the 2016 class.
Truly blessed to be with the @Bengals !! WHO DEY!!!!!— Cody Core (@Cody88Core) April 30, 2016
Core becomes the fifth Ole Miss prospect drafted, following Laremy Tunsil (first round to the Dolphins), Laquon Treadwell (first round to the Vikings), Robert Nkemdiche (first round to the Cardinals) and Fahn Cooper (fifth round to the 49ers).
Core arrived in Oxford as a 6'3", 173-pound, two-star recruit in Hugh Freeze's first recruiting class, which was a mad scramble to inject talent into a program whose talent pool was so thoroughly drained by Houston Nutt. At the time, not much thought was given to Core, with the few who did notice him hoping he might one day provide good special teams depth.
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Instead, Core leaves Ole Miss as a 203-pounder who trails only Laquon Treadwell in receiving production during the last two seasons. In 26 games, Core caught 78 passes for 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns. He regularly provided Dr. Bo and Chad Kelly with a reliable receiving option, both as a primary target and when the Ole Miss quarterbacks saw that Treadwell was surrounded by 8-10 defenders (a rough estimate).
The main problem Core presented to defenses, and will hopefully continue to present in the NFL, was that he was usually better than the number two and three cover corners (and certainly any linebacker or safety) he faced. Given the attention paid to Treadwell, he often drew these favorable matchups, whether going against man or zone coverage, and made opposing defenses pay.
In the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (FACT: Trent Dilfer gets $1 every time he says this), Core will rarely face a defense's top cover corners (at least until he drops a 110-catch season on those fools), but the number two and three cover corners are going to be much better than what he saw in college. This means his route-running has to become more precise and he'll have to get stronger to stay in the receiving rotation.
Fortunately for him, he has good speed (4.47 at the NFL Combine) and size, which, as the analyst like to say, "THAT CAN'T BE TAUGHT, BOB." That will help in his quest to get passes thrown his way, but even if he misses out on the regular receiver rotation, he has the ability to hang on as a special teams guy.
And surely knowing how to ran off on da plug twice counts for something, right?