Darqueze Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in the nation for 2013. (Al Behrman / Associated Press)
Former Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard on Thursday signed his rookie contract with the Bengals, who selected him in the first round, No. 24 overall, in the NFL draft.
He was the eighth and final Bengals draft pick to come to contract terms. Dennard is slotted to earn $8 million over the next four seasons.
Dennard has replaced Michigan's Leon Hall as a starter in the Bengals' backfield while Hall rehabs from a torn right Achilles.
“I like Darqueze," Hall told Bengals.com on Thursday. "The only hesitation I have is judging people too early, especially before the pads come out. But if you look at him in the helmets, I think he’s done everything the coaches have asked him to do. He’s definitely smart enough to make an impact in his first year once he gets more comfortable, knows the defense a little better.”