At nearly every position the Bengals are deep in terms of talent. Like off the continental shelf deep. As a result the battle for final roster spots is not simply going to be brutal, but real talent is going to be shed though not likely wasted. Unfortunately, there is a very real probability that our top two players named to the practice squad will be signed to other teams in short order. …please note this prediction for posterity.
That being said, it’s never too early to start considering the odds. The position with arguably the most talent and the least vacancies is linebacker, which ironically was often touted as one of the largest areas of need for the Bengals during the off season. Over the past three seasons, Cincinnati has taken 6 or 7 linebackers onto the final 53-man roster; a bit heavy for a team that ran more than 50% of its defensive snaps from a nickel package last season. Undrafted rookie phenomenon, Vontaze Burfict is all but a lock to make the roster, and with the signing of James Harrison and the re-signing of Rey Maualuga, two more names seem obvious to pencil in as well. That leaves reserve, developmental talent, or specialty package players with which to slate the remaining roster positions.
Emmanuel Lamur is the most likely of the remaining candidates to pick up a slot, but in no regards is that guaranteed. The undrafted converted safety-to-linebacker was one of the first of his kind to make it onto a Pro roster before such a conversion became vogue and seemingly a prerequisite for linebackers during this year’s NFL Draft, but his single-year familiarity with Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defensive schemes may still get out-weighed by some of the other talent behind him, despite seeing time in almost half the Bengals games last season. Let’s not leave Vincent Rey out of this pool either. The 3rd year player from Duke still has a year left on his contract.