Image Credit: Purdue Athletics
Markus Bailey, a 3-star out of Hilliard, Ohio, was a member of Purdue’s 2015 signing class. An ACL injury curtailed a freshman season where he played a reserve role. In his comeback season, he led the team in tackles, interceptions, and TFLs. As a sophomore, he finished second on the team in tackles (89) to go along with 11 TFL and 7 sacks. He led the team in tackles (115) and sacks (5.5) in 2018. As a redshirt senior in 2019, he had 17 tackles and 2 TFL before he tore his ACL again.
Bailey is an exceptional talent at linebacker. His incredibly well-rounded skill set displays excellence in almost anything asked of an NFL linebacker. Bailey is a secure tackler and is very aggressive when it comes to meeting running backs in the hole. He can rush the passer well and gets home on blitzes. Bailey is above average in coverage for a linebacker. In 2018, he was rated as the best coverage linebacker in the Big 10. Finally, he displays good eye discipline and is rarely fooled by play action or motion.
While at Purdue, Bailey showed few weaknesses but one major concern is his health. The torn ACLs were on the same knee, and in 2018, Bailey dealt with a hip injury that eventually required offseason surgery. Without his injury concerns, many scouts believe Bailey is at least a 3rd-round prospect, but injuries do matter.
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How he fits in with the Bengals
Bailey fits in with the Bengals because as a team they need solid depth at linebacker. This is a good pick by the Bengals because Bailey is a low risk, high reward selection and could reward them with very high production for years. If injuries do not hold Bailey back, he will be a stud linebacker, anchoring their defense for the foreseeable future.
Even is Bailey isn’t a starter full-time, there’s plenty of quality in his game and on his tape for him to carve a role as a rotational linebacker who comes in when necessary. Bailey, however, has enough potential to be a starter at the next level, especially if he stays healthy.