Bengals select Dunlap
Carlos Dunlap has been called a lot of things over the last couple of months leading up to the NFL draft.
He's been called an athletic freak, a player with unlimited potential. He's also been called lazy and apathetic.
Now you can call him a Cincinnati Bengal.
Dunlap, a former Fort Dorchester High School star, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of Friday night's NFL draft.
Dunlap, who played collegiately at Florida, was selected with the 54th overall pick. He was the ninth defensive end taken and the 22nd pick in the second round.
"I feel like it's a really good fit for me," Dunlap told reporters Friday night. "I love the way the (Bengals) defense plays."
Blessed with the speed and quickness of a running back and the frame of defensive tackle, the 6-6, 277-pound Dunlap had first-round athletic ability, but there were plenty of questions about his work ethic and intensity leading up to the draft. A drunk driving charge didn't help his cause as Dunlap watched helplessly as his stock plummeted in the eyes of NFL scouts prior to the draft.
Gainesville, Fla., police found Dunlap passed out behind the wheel of his car at an intersection just days before the SEC Championship game in December. He was suspended for the SEC title game, but reinstated three weeks later and had two sacks in a Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.
Dunlap eventually pleaded no contest to driving under the influence on Jan. 29 and received a year's probation plus 50 hours of community service.
"That was thoroughly investigated," said Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "Obviously it was not a good time to have a DUI arrest, but there's never a good time to have a DUI arrest -- particularly this one."
Dunlap said he's learned his lesson.
"That was the only incident I've ever had on my record," Dunlap said. "I never had anything before that, and I won't ever have any more. I told (Cincinnati) that was my first and last incident. I learned from it. I apologized to everyone. I'm ready to move forward and turn that negative into a positive."
Dunlap said he tried not to listen to his critics leading up to the draft. He added that his DUI charge probably hurt him in the draft.
"I thought it might affect my draft stock, but right now I'm just happy to be a Bengal," Dunlap said. "They are going to say a lot of things. I know I need to work on a lot, so I'm just using the talk as motivation and I look forward to proving a lot of people wrong. That's all I can do."
Dunlap was the defensive MVP of the 2009 BCS national championship game with four tackles and 1/2-sack. In three years with the Gators, Dunlap had 81 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss and 19 1/2 sacks.
"He has an ability to be both an outside rusher and an inside rusher. He's a tremendous athlete," Lewis said. "He's had good production. He's done a lot of the things you do in National Football League defenses, as far as understanding blitz-zones, and then the base defenses. We're really excited about him. He's a tall, angular guy with great speed and athleticism."
Dunlap earned the reputation as one of the SEC's top run stoppers. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said he plans to initially use Dunlap at a tackle spot next season.
"One of the reasons we liked him so much was because he has some versatility," Zimmer said. "He's rushed as a defensive tackle, and you all know one of the things I've talked about in the offseason is having to get more pressure in the quarterback's face from up the middle so our ends could go a little bit more. We felt like, at this point in time, he was the best option for us."
Zimmer said questions about Dunlap's intensity on the field were valid, but added that his character off it was not an issue.
"Sometimes he has disappeared a little bit in some of the games," Zimmer said. "But I've been watching a lot of tape and there are a lot of guys that have already gone off the board that take a lot more plays off than this guy. But that's our job as coaches, to make sure they're not taking plays off.
"The people that we talked to said the kid is a tremendous kid. He's a 3.0 student. His Wonderlic test was off the charts high. And everyone we talked to said -- 'this is a one-time shot, the kid made a mistake, he's not this type of guy at all.' So we really feel from the information we gathered -- he made a mistake."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.