As you've seen, after being impressed by Vic in workouts, the Cincinnati Bengals have taken a chance on former Gamecocks corner Victor Hampton. As a Carolina fan, I'm happy that Vic is going to get a chance to make it in the league; I also think the signing is a great decision by the Bengals.
Don't look at this as the Bengals going back to their 'bad boy' ways though. Hampton is a rookie undrafted free agent. If there's even a sniff of trouble from him, he's cut with no repercussions. He started 22 games in his final two seasons at USC and had 91 tackles, 13 pass breakups and four interceptions.
Hampton was told by the NFL's underclassman advisory committee that he would be drafted in the second or third round of the draft, and ESPN analyst Todd McShay graded Hampton "a fourth- or fifth-round" pick.
If he manages to keep his head on straight and work his tail off training camp, he would beat out Lavelle Westbrooks and Chris Lewis-Harris for the sixth cornerback spot on the 53-man roster.
For the Bengals, Vic is a low-risk, high-reward proposition. Once projected as a potential second-day pick, Vic fell out of the draft due to off-field issues and a poor showing at the Combine. However, overall, Vic has been on an upward trajectory when it comes to the character concerns that have followed him since high school. Steve Spurrier has been open with his praise of Vic's maturation since the end of the 2013 regular season, saying,
Victor has really come around and been an excellent teammate and a fun guy to coach the last half of this season ... He’s had some issues in the past, but he has been outstanding the last 10 or 12 weeks for us.
Admittedly, the recent mishaps have been concerning given Vic's past, but on the other hand, they could also be interpreted as blips in an otherwise positive recent history. In any event, Vic's money with Cinci isn't guaranteed, so if he screws up, it's no skin off the Bengals' backs.
Some might say that the Bengals do risk introducing a negative presence into the locker room and upsetting team chemistry, but Vic's problems have mostly had to do with questionable off-field judgment. In the locker room, he's well-liked, regarded as a hard worker, and generally viewed as a positive presence. Cinci has nothing to worry about in this regard.
Last but not least, Vic's talent makes what little risk there is more than worth it. Yes, his Combine numbers were subpar, but anyone who has watched him play knows that they didn't reflect his athleticism and talent. Vic has been the best cover corner on a formidable SEC pass defense for two years running. His performance against top-flight receivers such as Clemson's Sammy Watkins, who went in the first round of the draft to the Bills, suggest that he absolutely can contribute to an NFL defense.
If you're a Cinci fan reading this, take it from someone who has watched Vic closely for the past three years: This kid can play. As long as he watches his off-field behavior, and I think he will, you'll be happy with the value you just got in your team signing Vic.