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Notre Dame Football

Bengals DC Lou Anarumo Loves DE Khalid Kareem

May 1, 2020

The Cincinnati Bengals were looking for depth and a younger body to shore up the edge of its defensive line in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Enter defensive end Khalid Kareem as the Bengals selected him with the first pick of the fifth round. 

"Another guy who brings us some flexibility," stated Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. "I see him as a defensive end to start where in our sub defense; he's out there securing the edges. 

"At this point in the draft, when you can get a guy who is as big, tall and long - he has an 84-inch wingspan and had 13 sacks in his career. He was a captain at Notre Dame last year and has pass-rush ability. In the fifth-round, those are traits we like." 

The length of Kareem was something that caught the eye of Anarumo and that matters in the NFL Draft. 

Coaches are looking for factors of separation and Kareem measured out at the top of the class.

"When you're talking about the length the kid has and 34 3/8 arms and 84 wingspan - that's rare," Anarumo stated. "That can come into play in a lot of ways: separation from offensive linemen, knocking balls down at the line scrimmage and the overall play and the makeup of the guy. 

"We liked some of those other guys as well, but we put this guy a little bit above." 

The 6-foot-4, 268-pounder might have length and size, but it was Kareem being a captain at Notre Dame that had Anarumo fired up. 

"Anytime you have leaders in college, it lends itself to being better in the pros," said Anarumo. And at a place like Notre Dame, which is what it is. We're very excited about it." 

The Bengals are a multi-front defense and Kareem's ability to play the edge in multiple fronts also bodes well for his future.

"The less we can be pigeonholed into one thing, we'll be better," explained Anarumo. "We're not an outlier when it comes to having some 3-4 guys that can do certain things. 70-percent of the time, you're going to be in some type of nickel defense with four-down structures. 

"You want to keep it multiple and this guy lends to that as well." 

Joe Burrow might be the headliner of the class, but the Bengals took Kareem along with three linebackers last weekend. 

Anarumo hopes the youth can provide some depth early, but also start a new wave of defense in Cincinnati.

"This has been a proud place when it comes to defense," Anarumo said. "It hasn't been that way the last few years. 

"Part of it is our job is to evaluate, get younger bodies that can compete for spots. Who ends up starting will play itself out. Our job is to get a pool to create competition and then the best guys will bubble up and play." 

Kareem will continue to rebab his labrum (shoulder) from surgery in January, knowing he could see plenty of early snaps in 2020. 

"I don't have any doubt this guy will take snaps off of guys, especially early in the season when it's hot and you don't want your guys out there for 50-60 plays," said Anarumo. "You get a much better player if everybody is in the 30s and 40s as opposed to one guy in the 60s and 70s." 

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