Cincinnati Bengals Rookies: Featuring The Long Shots 2014
Weather it’s the underdog, little guy, unknown, or the long shots, everyone likes to root for the team/player that doesn’t have the pedigree or background of a sure thing. After the college season, combine, all-star games, prodays, team visits, and draft we are exhausted with all of the rookies entering the NFL one way or the other and tend to overlook the end of roster rookies.
What always fascinates me is when a guy like Emmanual Lamur, Vinny Rey, Vontaze Burfict, Jason DiManche makes the roster and proceed to make an impact. But who are these guys, outside of Burfict who knew anything about Lamur? Even myself was surprised because I watched every game the guy played in here in Manhattan, home of the Kansas State Wildcats. How special is it though when a longshot makes a roster and has scouts/GM’s kicking themselves for over looking a bright light is a field of dim bulbs.
This years roster is going to be tough one to crack but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see some guys get on this roster one way or the other. So your saying there’s a chance? Yes and the aforementioned players above showed that making the roster as a long shot can and has happened. Here are the guys to keep an eye on and learn more about, the 2014 Long Shots.
Saftey Isiah Lewis:
Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Isaiah Lewis (9) reacts to play during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Teamed with the Bengals 1st round pick Darqueze Dennard at MSU, Lewis was a big part of a very strong defense starting over 30 games at strong safety. How a guy like Lewis goes undrafted I don’t know but he has a real shot at this roster as a special teamer. Described as a high character player, football smart competitor I’m rooting for Lewis as an eventual replacement for starter Reggie Nelson. Lewis is similar in size as Reggie Nelson and could play either safety spot, I think the last spot will come down to he or Taylor Mays.
Conerback/Safety Victor Hamilton:
Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Victor Hampton (44) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The former Gamecock is another player who had a draft day “slide”. His game tape shows a mid round prospect with some real potential as a year one contributor and he has the size to potentially contribute at safety as well. At South Carolina he intercepted 5 passes, showing nice movement skills and strong run support.
The reason Hampton waited for a month to be signed as a college free agent is because of his off the field back ground which dates back to high school and he was arrested again in April. Can he be counted on, I guess you never know if a guy can turn it around or is a lost cause. Let’s hope he doesn’t waste the opportunity he has been given.
Running back James Wilder Jr.:
Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back James Wilder Jr. (34) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
A physical specimen is how many describe Wilder Jr. and at 6’1 232lbs he is a load coming through the hole, running with a violent style. At Florida State he averaged 7.0 yards per carry with a touchdown every 10 carries. He was never a true starter carrying the ball “just” 226 as part of a rotation at FSU. Wilder Jr. is another guy with a character issues and will have to show the staff that he is committed to keeping his nose clean. If he can and shows the ability to play special teams he could be a real find.
Guard/Tackle Dan France:
Oct 27, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive tackle Dan France (59) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Michigan State defeated Wisconsin 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The offensive line is one of the positions that I think a longshot can make. Dan France started 36 games at Michigan State playing both guard and left tackle boosting the versatility that the Bengals love. He is probably the longest long shot on the list but never say never with a strong camp he could push for a spot. France is one of those guys that could hang around on a practice squad and eventually become a real solid player.
Kicker/Punter Quinn Sharp:
Jul 26, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals kicker Quinn Sharp (3) kicks as punter Kevin Huber (10) holds during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sharp made the list last year and just wasn’t given a fair shot to make the roster. It could be just me hoping to replace often injured Mike Nugent but I think Sharp has a real shot at doing it. An All-American as both a kicker and punter, Sharp also had 70% of his kickoffs result in a touchback. He is a true “triple threat kicker” who could be the long-term answer to the kicker position.