Breaking Down Team Cincinnati Bengals Roster After the 2014 NFL Draft
The madness of the offseason is finally over. Both free agency and the draft have come and gone, leaving the Cincinnati Bengals with the group of players they expect to carry into the 2014 season.
While the Bengals draft class isn't receiving resounding positives from across the media stratosphere, their roster was never in desperate need of an infusion of talent that would counted upon to contribute immediately in 2014. That doesn't mean the Bengals have a perfect roster, but it is very strong.
Let's take a look through the pieces currently on the roster.
1. Andy Dalton
2. Jason Campbell
3. AJ McCarron
Andy Dalton is clearly the starter and it appears unlikely that AJ McCarron will supplant Jason Campbell as the primary backup. McCarron would have been fighting Josh Johnson for the third spot on the depth chart, but Johnson was released today.
It's possible that McCarron is still playing for his spot on the roster, as the Bengals may choose to carry just two quarterbacks to give them more flexibility at other positions. There will be no controversy with the starting quarterback this year, but that's not to say there won't be something to watch for next year.
1. Giovani Bernard
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
3. Jeremy Hill
4. Rex Burkhead
5. Cedric Peerman
6. James Wilder
Giovani Bernard was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft to be the feature back at this stage of his career. He is the clear starter at the running back spot. Green-Ellis is the veteran complement, so he will likely enter training camp as the second back on the depth chart.
The Bengals will hope that Hill can beat out Green-Ellis and improve their 1-2 punch in the running game. Green-Ellis is likely in the peculiar position of either being the primary backup or not making the roster at all. That is because he has a bigger contract than the other backs and isn't a special teams player.
Rex Burkhead, Cedric Peerman and James Wilder will all compete for different roles with the team.
Peerman appears to be the best special teams player amongst the trio, while Burkhead offers more as a backup on offense. Wilder played for the national champion Florida State Seminoles, but on the NFL level he is essentially an unknown after going undrafted.
Much like the quarterback position, the Bengals have a good idea of what they want at the running back spot.
1. Orson Charles
2. Nikita Whitlock
3. Ryan Hewitt (Officially listed as Tight End)
Orson Charles should remain the Bengals' starter at fullback. His versatility and experience with the team should work in his favor. Charles converted from tight end before last season. Nikita Whitlock and Ryan Hewitt are both undrafted free agents. Whitlock is a converted defensive lineman, and Hewitt played at Stanford.
1. A.J. Green
2. Marvin Jones
3. Mohamed Sanu
4. Brandon Tate
5. Dane Sanzenbacher
6. James Wright
7. Ryan Whalen
8. Cobi Hamilton
9. Alex Neutz
10. Colin Lockett
It appears the Marvin Jones will be the clear second option for the Bengals behind A.J. Green this season. Mohamed Sanu has shown the talent to be a starter, but his inconsistency has been a concern throughout his short career.
In spite of that, Sanu's roster spot is relatively safe. After the departure of Andrew Hawkins, he has less competition for the slot role.
Although Dane Sanzenbacher is more likely to make a notable contribution on offense, Brandon Tate is listed above him here because he is more likely to make the final roster. Tate remains the Bengals go-to option for returns on special teams, and he gives them some of the speed that they lost with Hawkins.
Sanzenbacher should make the roster with another good training camp, but he will need to stave off competition from seventh-round draft pick James Wright out of LSU.
Wright, if he has a good training camp, should have a good chance of beating out Ryan Whalen, Cobi Hamilton and undrafted free agents Alex Neutz and Colin Lockett. Because of Tyler Eifert's threat as a receiver from the tight end spot, the Bengals don't desperately need great depth at wide receiver.
1. Tyler Eifert
2. Jermaine Gresham
3. Orson Charles (TE/FB)
4. Kevin Brock
5. Ryan Hewitt
Much like Bernard at the running back position, Tyler Eifert should expect to be the primary tight end in the Bengals offense this year. That doesn't mean Jermaine Gresham will be demoted too much, because his blocking ability will still keep him on the field a lot.
It's going to be very difficult for Kevin Brock to make the roster because of the presence of Orson Charles. Charles may now be a fullback, but he still has a tight end skill set and serves as a third option at the position.
The Bengals have one of the best tight end depth charts in the NFL.
1. Andrew Whitworth
2. Andre Smith
3. Kevin Zeitler
4. Clint Boling
5. Mike Pollak
6. Russell Bodine
7. Marshall Newhouse
8. Trevor Robinson
9. T.J. Johnson
10. Tanner Hawkinson
11. Trey Hopkins
12. Curtis Feigt
13. Dan France
The Bengals starting offensive line is set, except for the center position. At that spot Russell Bodine and Mike Pollak will be the main competitors, but Trevor Robinson will feel like he has a good chance to win the starting job also.
Few real questions about who will make the final roster remain here. Despite the departure of Anthony Collins, the only major issue the Bengals have is deciding how many players they carry during the regular season.
Because the Bengals didn't draft another offensive tackle and because Andrew Whitworth can move inside if needed, Marshall Newhouse, if healthy, should make the roster. He and Russell Bodine/Mike Pollak appear to be the definite backups, so Robinson will likely need to win the starting center spot to make the team.
The Bengals have a lot of versatility on their offensive line.
1. Geno Atkins
2. Carlos Dunlap
3. Domata Peko
4. Wallace Gilberry
5. Margus Hunt
6. Will Clarke
7. Devon Still
8. Brandon Thompson
9. Robert Geathers
10. Christo Bilukidi
11. Sam Montgomery
12. Ogemdi Nwagbuo
13. Zach Minter
14. David King
15. Larry Black
The Bengals carried nine defensive linemen on their active roster during the regular season last year. Eight of those nine remain and the missing one, Michael Johnson, have been replaced by third-round draft pick Will Clarke.
Using those nine as a base projection, the Bengals final roster should look like this: Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, Wallace Gilberry, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson, Robert Geathers and Will Clarke.
The one player of that group who is most likely to lose his roster spot is Geathers.
Geathers has been a prominent piece of the Bengals defensive line rotation for some time, but he has never been a massively impactful player against the run or as a pass-rusher. He is a good all-around backup who could fill a starter role.
If anyone is going to take Geathers' starting spot, Sam Montgomery should be the favorite. Montgomery has been in the league for roughly 12 months and he is already on his third NFL team. He was drafted by the Houston Texans last year, but was released for off-field issues.
The Oakland Raiders subsequently signed and released him during the season before he landed in Cincinnati.
Montgomery played college at LSU across from Barkevious Mingo. He came out of college with character concerns, but he was a promising enough prospect to get drafted in the third round. While he doesn't have overwhelming levels of ability, he could be an upgrade over Geathers, if the Bengals can manage his character and help his development.
1. Vontaze Burfict
2. Rey Maualuga
3. Emmanuel Lamur
4. Vincent Rey
5. Jayson DiManche
6. Dontay Moch
7. Marquis Flowers
8. Sean Porter
9. Brandon Joiner
10. Bruce Taylor
11. J.K. Schaffer
12. James Davidson
The Bengals only kept five linebackers on their roster during the regular season last year. Those players were Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey, Jayson DiManche and James Harrison.
Harrison is no longer with the team, and Emmanuel Lamur was injured before the beginning of last season so he is a ready-made replacement. Lamur is obviously very different from Harrison, but the Bengals appear to be looking for more athleticism in their linebacker corps this year, if drafting Marquis Flowers is any indication.
Flowers is a developmental player who will be doing well if he makes the roster. He will likely compete with Lamur for his spot as a nickel linebacker, but there is a small chance that both players could make the roster and be used together on the field at times.
After Flowers, there aren't any notable new faces competing for roster spots this season, so it should be more of the same in 2014.
1. Darqueze Dennard
2. Leon Hall
3. Adam Jones
4. Dre Kirkpatrick
5. Terence Newman
6. Chris Lewis-Harris
7. Brandon Burton
8. Onterio McCalebb
9. R.J. Stanford
Leon Hall's return from his second torn Achilles tendon appears to be on track, so currently there aren't any question marks over his status for the 2014 season. Darqueze Dennard was the team's first-round pick this year, so he will definitely make the roster even if he doesn't contribute immediately—though the former Spartan is indeed expected to make an impact right away.
Overall, there are a number of quality players competing for playing time at the cornerback spot for the Bengals.
It appears that Terence Newman could be the odd man out. He is very close to the end of his career and has already outperformed expectations since arriving in Cincinnati. Newman, Hall and Adam Jones have been the Bengals main cornerbacks over the past two seasons. Dre Kirkpatrick and Dennard could push Jones and Newman out of the top of the rotation and join Hall, if the veteran is fully healthy.
If Hall isn't able to return to form, then Dennard and Kirkpatrick could compete for the slot role and one or both of Newman and Jones could hold onto his role from last season.
This is an intriguing spot for the Bengals because there is a lot of uncertainty at the top of the depth chart, but it appears clear that nobody from the bottom will be usurping the jobs of those at the top. It doesn't these more marginal corners that the Bengals also have good depth at the safety position.
1. Reggie Nelson
2. George Iloka
3. Danieal Manning
4. Taylor Mays
5. Shawn Williams
6. Isaiah Lewis
The Bengals have exceptional depth at the safety position.
Goerge Iloka established himself as a quality starter last year. He and Reggie Nelson should be expected to retain those starting spots in 2014. Danieal Manning was a relatively cheap free-agent addition after he suffered through injuries with the Houston Texans last year.
Manning will be a quality third safety off the bench, while Taylor Mays can move between linebacker and safety spots in nickel packages.
Shawn Williams made the roster last season, but he will be fighting those at other positions to tip the balance in his favor this year. Undrafted free agent Isaiah Lewis has an uphill battle to win if he is going to be on the active roster for the regular season.
1. Kevin Huber
2. Mike Nugent
3. T.J. Conley
4. Quinn Sharp
5. Clark Harris
Unless either player is struck down by injury, both Kevin Huber and Mike Nugent should return to their roles as starters at punter and kicker. Clark Harris should also be the team's long snapper. That makes Conley and Sharp camp bodies who need to impress other teams during preseason.