One of the most impressive and surprising players to shine at this weekend’s rookie minicamp was Southern Illinois linebacker Jayson DiManche, who’s hoping to become the latest undrafted linebacker to crack the 53-man opening-day roster. The Bengals made it no secret they were high on him as they gave him the biggest signing bonus that any undrafted player received in the entire NFL, and Head Coach Marvin Lewis also commented on what he likes about DiManche:
He’s such a good athlete. He’s got the long legs, long arms. But he’s so underdeveloped physically. That’s what you’re looking for: a guy with the physical upside. Playing where he played there, at Southern Illinois, he’s on the come up.
Lewis also offered up these remarks on his view of undrafted free agents:
We always had a guy from a college free agent make the team and have some impact. I think the same was true from my time in Baltimore. We always had guys who hung around, were on the practice squad and eventually got their opportunities and they turned out to be good players and they played six, eight, 10, 12 years in the league. They started out in different situations. I think guys who have the work ethic and the mental capacity to do this and they keep working at it they make opportunity for themselves.
When talking about which Bengals rookie will have the greatest fantasy impact, most people are already pegging Giovani Bernard as one of this year’s top rookie performers, and Adam Levitan of Roto World believes Bernard is the 4th-best prospect in terms of dynasty football rookie rankings:
The Bengals finally gave up on Bernard Scott, identifying their desperate need for big-play back. Enter Bernard, who was the first running back off the board thanks to his 6.7 YPC at North Carolina last season and 4.53 forty at 202 pounds. He’s a gifted athlete whose fantasy appeal down the road is far greater than it is in 2013. For now, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is going to handle the majority of early-down work and short-yardage chances. Bernard projects to mix in and get a series or two to himself each half. Expect something between 170 and 210 total touches this season.
ESPN’s KC Joyner isn’t so high on him, as he believes Bernard should be considered a No. 3 running back on most fantasy teams, and on the overall running back rankings, Bernard is 36th.