This offseason at the NFL owners meetings, Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis was asked about Mohammed Sanu and his progress of becoming cemented as the Bengals number 2 wide receiver opposite A.J. Green. Lewis commented on how versatile and mature Sanu has become and even went as far to say, “Hell, he could start for us at free safety if he wanted to.” I know Marvin is really making a compliment toward how much Mohamed Sanu has progressed as a 2nd year player, but it begs me to ask, how good is this guy? Can he be the answer to the ever important number 2 wide receiver question?
It’s also worth noting that Lewis also said that he believes Sanu is ahead of where former Bengals wideout Chad Johnson was entering his second season in 2002.
Here is a quick history on Sanu since it has been nearly a year since he was drafted by the Bengals. Sanu was talented enough at Rutgers University to play wide receiver and when needed, quarterback. Sanu set a Big East record in 2011, catching 115 passes for 1,206 yards, a record previously held by Larry Fitzgerald. Sanu was also the victim of a cruel hoax when someone pretending to be Mike Brown called him and said the Bengals were selecting him 27th overall. Everything did turn out okay though when Sanu’s phone rang two days later and the real Mike Brown said the Bengals were drafting him 83rd overall.
Our first look at Mohamed Sanu, besides preseason, came in week 3 against the Redskins when, on the first play from scrimmage, Sanu lined up in the Wildcat formation and threw a play action bomb to a streaking A.J. Green for a 73 yard touchdown. With that throw, he became the first Bengals receiver to throw a touchdown pass. Fans and media began to really pay attention to Mohamed Sanu when he caught his first touchdown pass against the reigning super bowl champion New York Giants. Over the next two weeks Sanu became a favorite red zone target for QB Andy Dalton, where Sanu had 7 catches, 3 of which were touchdowns. On November 30, 2012, Mohamed Sanu’s season was cut short to have surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
Moving forward to 2013, and there is no reason to think that Sanu can’t slide into the #2 receiver role. The guy has a reputation for having great hands, being a versatile player, and an obvious red zone threat. Sanu came into the league at 6 foot 2, and 210 lbs, which is the right size and pedigree of that #2 receiver position. With Andy Dalton targeting A.J. Green 38% of the time last season, there is no doubt someone needs to line up opposite him to take that pressure away, and a healthy Mohamed Sanu is that guy. I just don’t think he will be playing free safety anytime soon, but, you never know.