Cincinnati Bengals: 6 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
As a player on a squad as young and deep at the Cincinnati Bengals, it can be difficult to raise your stock to the point where everyone from the coaching staff to the media members take notice.
It's early, but there are several names doing just that in Bengals OTAs.
With the way Cincinnati has been drafting the past few years, the fact that some names (rookies included) are breaking through speaks to just how talented they may be.
Make no mistake, things could change at the drop of a hat considering it's only June, but solid performances now can snowball into a roster spot and playing time.
In the following slideshow, we'll take a look at several players in Bengals OTAs who are seeing their stock rise with each practice.
SS Shawn Williams
Bengals rookie safety and Georgia product Shawn Williams figures to battle with Taylor Mays for the starting strong safety spot as we head toward the regular season.
So far, Williams is saying and doing all of the right things as his stock rises in OTAs. He's made a few interceptions and is impressing everyone with his memory of the playbook, as he elaborated to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:
"I've got a great memory and that helps me with the playbook"...who points to his recent performance in Cincinnati's neurophysiology exam that sets the baseline for concussion treatment.
They said I was off the charts when it came to the visuals. I never forget a face. I'm not that good with names, but I never forget a face. That's kind of how I picture the playbook.
Williams is certainly helping his case for a starting role so far. The ability to memorize and understand a playbook is huge for any rookie in the NFL, and the physical traits are already there for Williams to excel in coverage and tackling.
TE/FB Orson Charles
For second-year tight end Orson Charles, the only way to make an impact on the Bengals' roster in 2013 may be at another position outside of the one he calls home.
The Bengals coaching staff may be thinking the same thing. According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Charles took some snaps out of the fullback position in certain scenarios.
This is a role that could potentially be reserved for rookie running back Rex Burkhead when healthy, but the coaching staff's willingness to try Charles at the spot should speak volumes.
Charles is going to have a hard time getting on the field thanks to Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, so finding creative ways to get him touches is huge, both for Charles and the offense as a whole. Having potentially three talented tight ends on the field along with wide receiver A.J. Green is going to cause some problems for defenses in the red zone.
Many thought the selection of Eifert in the recent draft spelled doom for Charles, but it doesn't appear that is in the cards. All Charles has to do is prove he can handle the new position, which he has been doing so far.
WR Cobi Hamilton
It's one thing for tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard to be impressing coaches in OTAs—that's what they're supposed to do being the first two selections the Bengals made in the draft.
It's another for Arkansas product Cobi Hamilton, one of the team's sixth-round selections, to be tearing it up to the point of receiving consistent praise from the coaching staff.
According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Hamilton is catching everything thrown his way and making tough catches in traffic to boot:
The first two draft picks, tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard, continue to draw raves as Eifert carved up a seven-on-seven period in the red zone. But don't sleep on sixth-rounder Cobi Hamilton, the wide receiver from Arkansas who has caught just about everything with 6-2, 212-pound physicality.
It was hard to consider Hamilton a serious threat to maker the final roster entering rookie minicamp and OTAs, but the consistency he has continued to display should push him well past the likes of Ryan Whalen and Brandon Tate.
Cincinnati needs some insurance with second-year receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu having yet shown an ability to stay healthy. With the way Hamilton's stock is rising, he should be the immediate backup behind the two.
OT Tanner Hawkinson
The Bengals have been dealing with a wealth of absences along the offensive line in OTAs. Andre Smith is absent due to personal issues while Andrew Whitworth, Trevor Robinson and Clint Boling are missing time for various reasons.
As a result, folks like Anthony Collins and rookie tackle Tanner Hawkinson have been thrust into first-team repetitions, according to Lucas Greta of CincyJungle.com.
The news isn't a big deal for a guy like Collins, but it most certainly is for Hawkinson. The fifth-round pick out of Kansas faced an uphill battle of making the final roster before parlaying an impressive rookie minicamp into a starting role in OTAs.
Hawkinson is getting the important reps against some of the best defensive lines in all of football. It's certainly not game speed, but it's allowing his stock to rise as a serious candidate to stick around on the roster.
CB Brandon Ghee
Brandon Ghee has been quietly hanging around with Cincinnati while dealing with a wealth of injuries that have stunted his development and playing time.
For now, that's changed with the arrival of OTAs.
Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones have been dealing with injuries that have forced them out of OTAs at one point or another. This has thrust a now-healthy Ghee into a starting role during practice sessions, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
Ghee doesn't figure to play a major role in 2013 outside of depth unless Kirkpatrick fails to stay healthy or adjust to the pro level.
However, his stock is on the rise for practicing with the first team in OTAs, and those reps could go a long way toward helping him stick on the roster.
LB James Harrison
Many were confused as to how former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison would be used in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's 4-3 scheme in Cincinnati after signing on with the squad via free agency.
Apparently, he'll be a versatile piece given the situation.
Geoff Hobson over at Bengals.com reports Harrison has been seeing snaps at middle linebacker in order to rush the passer up the middle. He's pegged as the starting strong-side linebacker next season, but this versatility coming from a 3-4 scheme bodes well for his stock.
Obviously, this helps Cincinnati become more multi-dimensional. It gets questionable linebackers such as Rey Maualuga off the field in obvious passing situations and allows the best pass-rushers to be on the field together.
Versatility is the name of the game, even for older vets like Harrison.
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