At the conclusion of preseason, the Cincinnati Bengals opted to keep an unprecedented number of wide receivers on the final 53-man roster. Of those personnel only second year sensation and fourth overall draft pick of the 2011 Draft, A.J. Green, was a truly proven commodity after having broken on the scene and earning a Pro-Bowl selection as a rookie. Since then, as Green continues to set the club record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception, breaking TJ Houshmanzadah’s previous record of 8, the rest of the receivers continue to jostle for position within the depth chart. With only six games remaining in the 2012 NFL season, there is certainly enough of a body of work on these wide outs to begin to determine who will still be around in 2013.
Binns was originally named first on the depth chart behind A.J. Green. An activation from the practice squad late in last season, Binns was relatively effective for the first three games of the season, racking up 159 yards on 12 receptions (13.25 yards per catch) with 1 touchdown. However, afterwards, Binns became somewhat streaky, starting and playing in only two more games, both of which contained dropped balls, mis-run routes and an inability to get out from underneath coverage. Since missing Week 7 against Pittsburgh with an ankle injury, Binns hasn’t made it back to the field despite being made active each week. While it’s unclear why Binns hit the wall, it does seem that his stock on the depth chart has significantly dropped. Still a down-field threat who, if not injured in some undisclosed way, could be an unforeseen factor later this the season. Next year, however, could be an uphill fight to retain his place on the roster. Grade: C
“Baby Hawk” exploded onto the scene during the beginning of the Bengals’ season, notching plays for 20+ yards in each of his first five games. But disregarding the most recent outing against Kansas City in which he didn’t play, Hawkins efforts starting to be a little more reigned in during Weeks 6-10 as defensives have come to respect his abilities. That’s not to say that he hasn’t been a significant factor, still snagging more than and averaged 3 receptions a game for around 8 yards a carry. Currently third in receptions and receiving yards behind A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, opposing teams clearly acknowledge that Hawkins is a major open field threat, and while the Bengals continue to develop the playbook to get him into open space more often, Hawkins looks to be a solidifying himself as a marquee name in Cincinnati. Grade: B+