Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ryan Hewitt (89) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defenders during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was a coordinator and head coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2010 and 2011 respectively. While there he helped develop an important and eventual All-Pro player in fullback Marcel Reece.
Jackson’s creativity when game planning was a great match for a player like Reece. His blend of athleticism and football savvy made him the versatile type of player that Jackson enjoys. Jackson helped turn Reece into one of the NFL’s best fullbacks; Reece has been a Pro Bowler the past three seasons and was an All-Pro in 2013. Reece’s maturation into one of the NFL’s best is a testament to his versatility, ability, and Jackson’s ability to develop fullbacks while most of the league continues to negate the position.
Now the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Jackson will continue to implement his brand of offense in the coming season. The emphasis he places on the running game constitutes the need for a fullback. Last year, the Bengals chose to keep Ryan Hewitt over Orson Charles as the team’s fullback/H-back. This choice was validated by Hewitt’s fantastic first season.
Ryan Hewitt‘s 2014 performance landed him on Pro Football Focus’ 2014 All-Rookie team (along with running back Jeremy Hill). His performance also has some people in the Bengals organization believing he is already the NFL’s best fullback. This billing may be somewhat premature, but isn’t entirely baseless.
Ryan Hewitt’s skill set is similar to Marcel Reece. Jackson’s once cherished weapon has the ability to line up in the backfield, in the slot, and when necessary, as a tailback. Hewitt likely won’t see many carries, as he wasn’t used much in this role in college, but he did take a handful in college and one last year. This suggests he could take a carry or two if necessary. More importantly, Hewitt has proven to be a highly effective fullback due to his ability to quickly locate and block defenders in space. This skill will continue to be vital for the Bengals going forward as they look to establish their running game and help Jeremy Hill reach his ceiling.
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Hewitt can also play effectively away from the backfield. Last year Hewitt showed an ability to play at tight end. His sure hands make him a viable option in the passing game while he can also act as an extra blocker along the offensive line when the team chooses to run the ball. As a viable receiving option, Hewitt could also motion into the slot and give Andy Dalton another target in the passing game off the line.
If Ryan Hewitt keeps his “nose to the grindstone” and follows Hue Jackson’s lead, then there seems to be little reason that he couldn’t develop into a player similar to that off Marcel Reece. He could prove to be a valuable weapon regardless of where he lines up and could develop into a viable dual-threat player who won’t tip defenses off on the impending play. Hue Jackson may have found his next Marcel Reece in Ryan Hewitt.