Where do rookies such as Giovani Bernard rank on the latest Cincinnati Bengals depth chart?
Cincinnati is sure to be active on the undrafted free-agent market, but it's time to take a first glance over the new depth chart with all of the rookies firmly in place.
Let's take a gander at the Bengals' depth chart as we think it stands heading into offseason workouts and then predict the final 53-man roster that Cincinnati will take into the 2013 NFL season.
All pertinent player info courtesy of ProFootballFocus.
Projected Depth Chart: Andy Dalton, John Skelton, Josh Johnson, Zac Robinson
Don't expect the Cincinnati Bengals depth chart at the quarterback position to change much for the next few months unless the team brings in an undrafted rookie who flashes some potential.
Dalton is the man, but the rest is a bit of a toss-up. Skelton has starting experience and is the safe bet to win the backup job, but the versatility of Johnson could be intriguing enough to keep him around.
The coaching staff will have to decide if it wants wrinkles with Johnson or experience with Skelton. Cincinnati will only keep two quarterbacks.
Robinson has shown potential in the preseason, but if the team was confident in him, it would not have brought in two more quarterbacks this offseason.
Projected Depth Chart: Giovani Bernard, BenJarvus-Green Ellis, Bernard Scott, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead, Dan Herron, Onterio McCalebb
The one-two punch of Bernard and Green-Ellis is not going anywhere for a while. Expect Bernard to handle the majority of the carries next season with Green-Ellis being the short-yardage back.
Scott is going to have a tough time holding onto a job after suffering an ACL injury last year and seeing an addition in Bernard who handles every role as Scott—except better.
The battle between Peerman, Burkhead and Herron will be interesting because they will have to prove their worth on special teams where Peerman has a clear advantage.
'Burkhead is the wild card because he is everything the coaching staff loved in Brian Leonard. As a third-down back, he could snake onto the final roster.
Projected Depth Chart: A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins, Cobi Hamilton, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen, Dane Sanzenbacher, Justin Hilton, Tyrone Goard, Roy Roundtree
The Cincinnati Bengals have a good problem at wide receiver, with so much talent making it hard to see how in the world it will all work out.
The top four names on the depth chart are not going anywhere. Green is one of the NFL's best and the combo of Sanu and Jones are reliable across from him or in the slot. Hawkins rounds out the group as a quality slot option and a gadget-type player.
After that, it's a crapshoot.
Hamilton is the new addition to the roster and may have an inside edge, but the coaching staff loves Tate on returns and Whalen was extremely reliable in spot-duty last season.
Expect the Bengals to keep five to six receivers on the roster next season.
Projected Depth Chart: Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Orson Charles, Alex Smith, Richard Quinn
Eifert is a major upgrade for the Bengals after being taken in the first round. He gives the team the flexibility to run two tight end sets that wreak havoc on defenses.
Second-year man Charles is not going anywhere thanks to his excellent blocking skills—he's the best on the team at his position in that regard. He'll also sub in and out to keep the other two fresh.
Smith was recently signed and Quinn has potential, but it's hard to see either of them making the final roster after the addition of Eifert.
Projected Depth Chart: Andre Whitworth, Dennis Roland, Reid Fragel
Cincinnati is just fine at left tackle in case you were wondering. Whitworth remains one of the NFL's best and has no threat to his spot on the depth chart.
The battle between Roland and Fragel, the Ohio State rookie, is going to be one of the highlights of camp. Cincinnati will only keep two left tackles.
In the past, Roland has come in as an extra blocker who is eligible to catch passes. Fragel may steal his spot despite being a project because he is a converted tight end.
Watch this one closely.
Projected Depth Chart: Clint Boling, Travelle Wharton, Tanner Hawkinson
Left guard was the worst position on the Cincinnati offensive line last season for a few reasons.
For one, after signing with the team in the offseason, Wharton went down with a serious injury and never returned. The other things is that Boling flat-out stunk at times and was inconsistent at best despite playing next to left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
It appears the two will duke it out for the starting job, with the rookie Hawkinson hoping to latch on as a backup at either guard spot.
Projected Depth Chart: Trevor Robinson, Kyle Cook, T.J. Johnson
If there was a contest for "worst position on the Bengals' offensive line in 2012" the runner-up would be at the center position, but it is not as bad as you might think.
Undrafted rookie Robinson, out of Notre Dame, held down the fort adequately enough while Cook was out with an injury.
Cook has never been a horrible player, but he has consistently been labeled as a player who the team could upgrade on, and deservedly so. That upgrade could come this offseason as Robinson continues to develop. We saw flashes of him being a great player last season and he could improve with experience.
Johnson was a late pick in the draft and unless he flashes in a big way in training camp, he won't be on the roster.
Projected Depth Chart: Kevin Zeitler, Mike Pollack
Zeitler was a first-round pick last season who became one of the best right guards the NFL has to offer. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 12 overall guard.
His position is a lock no matter what and the recent signing of Pollack is nothing but a formality for the sake of having a backup should Zeitler go down.
Watch for Pollack to lose his job as more versatile players such as rookie Tanner Hawkinson can serve as a backup to multiple positions.
Projected Depth Chart: Andre Smith, Anthony Collins, Dan Knapp, John Sullen
Some of the best news to hit the Cincinnati Bengals during the course of the 2013 NFL draft was not who the team selected, but the fact that Smith had signed a new three-year deal with the team.
Smith was one of the best right tackles in the NFL last year (PFF ranked him No. 1 at right tackle) and it's important that he is back in the fold.
Behind him is another lock for the roster in Collins, a quality backup who can play any position on the offensive line outside of center.
Projected Depth Chart: Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Margus Hunt, Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry, Jamaal Anderson, DeQuin Evans, Travis Chappelear
With Johnson back in the fold and a freak athlete who resembles him in Hunt, it's back to business as usual for the Bengals.
Dunlap will continue to be the starter on the other side but be replaced by Geathers in running situations. Both Gilberry and Hunt will bring up the rear as effective rotational pass-rushers.
Anderson injured himself last season after being signed so it's hard to see him making the roster. The same goes for Evans, who has shown flashes of solid play, but the selection of Hunt means both are likely gone.
Projected Depth Chart: Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson, Larry Black Jr.
In a surprising turn of events, Cincinnati elected to not address the defensive tackle spot in the draft in one way or another. Not that it needs it.
In news not so surprising, all four tackles currently on the roster will be back with the Bengals in 2013. Atkins is one of the NFL's best (No. 1 overall if you go by PFF) and Peko is a stout run-defender.
Thompson excels at stuffing the run and Still has the potential to be a good inside pass-rusher. In other words, they are the perfect backups and rotational players.
Projected Depth Chart: Rey Maualuga, James Harrison, Sean Porter, Vincent Rey, Emmanuel Lamur, Aaron Maybin, Brandon Joiner Dontay Moch, Jayson Dimanche, Jordan Campbell
The Bengals recently brought in linebacker James Harrison, who could see time at strong-side or weak-side linebacker depending on which was the coaching staff wants to go.
In a perfect world, Maualuga will make the move to strong-side linebacker, where he was best at in his first few years with the team.
Behind them is a promising weak-side linebacker in the rookie, Porter. Rey and Lamur have shown great flashes when actually given the chance.
Maybin is going to be given a chance in training camp, as is Joiner. Moch is on his last strike with the team this preseason after suffering through injuries the first few years of his career.
To put it more simply, the Bengals' coaching staff has a lot to figure out in the linebacking corps between now and the start of the season.
Projected Depth Chart: Vontaze Burfict, J.K. Schaffer, Bruce Taylor
In a perfect world, the Bengals' coaching staff has Burfict penciled in as the starting inside linebacker heading into next season.
Burfict shocked the NFL last season by going undrafted due to character concerns, but turned out to be one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in football (No. 18 overall according to PFF).
The scary part is that Burfict is a more natural fit on the inside, where he played for most of his days at Arizona State.
If the Bengals are comfortable with the roster, look for Burfict to be moved inside with Schaffer potentially a backup.
Projected Depth Chart: Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones, Terence Newman, Brandon Ghee, Shaun Prater, Chris-Lewis Harris, Taveon Rogers, Troy Stoudermire, Terrence Brown
Cincinnati appears comfortable at cornerback heading into 2013 as the Bengals opted to not address the position in the 2013 NFL draft.
Hall is back for his No. 1 spot, but he will have a new running mate across from him in Kirkpatrick, who is a year removed from an injury that kept him out of his rookie season.
Jones was brought back this offseason and will resume his slot duties while Newman acts as quality depth after re-signing as well.
After that, you have Ghee and Prater, two youngsters who suffered injuries last season and landed on IR. Both have a good shot at sneaking onto the final roster.
Projected Depth Chart: Reggie Nelson, Shawn Williams, Jeormy Miles, Taylor Mays, George Iloka, Robert Sands, Tony Dye
Nelson continues to be a mainstay in the secondary for the Bengals as one of the NFL's best safeties (No. 7 overall, according to PFF).
Next to him at strong safety will likely be rookie Williams, who has everything the team is looking for in an in-the-box presence who can stuff the run with ease.
The two primary backups will be Mays and Miles, who excel on special teams and are serviceable on the field if the starters go down. Iloka and Sands were drafted a year ago and are going to have to work to even stay on the roster at this point.
Projected Depth Chart: Mike Nugent (K), Kevin Huber (P), Quinn Sharp (P), Clark Harris (LS), Adam Jones (PR), Andrew Hawkins (KR)
The dream team on special teams for the Bengals is back for another season with Nugent doing the kicking, Huber doing the punting and Harris handling the long-snapping duties.
As far as returners go, the Bengals did not add anyone to the roster who presents a serious threat in the kick-return game.
Running back Giovani Bernard does, but the team may want to keep him fresh as the featured back. Expect Jones to be back on punt returns and Hawkins to be back on kick returns.
Here is how we think the final 53-man roster for the 2013 Cincinnati Bengals will play out:
QB (2): Andy Dalton, John Skelton
RB (4): Giovani Bernard, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead
FB (1): Chris Pressely
TE (3): Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Orson Charles
WR (6): A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen
LT (2): Andrew Whitworth, Reid Fragel
LG (2): Clint Boling, Travelle Wharton
C (2): Trevor Robinson, Kyle Cook
RG (1): Kevin Zeitler
RT (2): Andre Smith, Anthony Collins
DE (5): Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Margus Hunt, Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry
DT (4): Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson
WLB (4): James Harrison, Sean Porter, Emmanuel Lamur, Aaron Maybin
MLB (1): Vontaze Burfict
SLB (2): Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey
CB (5): Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones, Terenece Newman, Brandon Ghee
FS (2): Reggie Nelson, Jeromy Miles
SS (2): Shawn Williams, Taylor Mays
K (1): Mike Nugent
P (1): Kevin Huber
LS (1): Clark Harris
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