The 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone, rookie minicamp is in the books, and we can already feel the excitement about the 2015-2016 Cincinnati Bengals. After another solid draft the Bengals’ depth chart has been stacked with reinforcements and young talent. It can be argued that they have the best roster in all of football with 20 returning starters from 2014 (and starter Michael Johnson from 2013). They will look to replace those two starters, Jermaine Gresham/Terence Newman, with previous first round picks, Tyler Eifert and either Dre Kirkpatrick or Darqueze Dennard.
The excitement also comes with some anxiety as Bengals fans are long overdue for some playoff success. The one position that has been a postseason question mark continues to have the same guy leading it. Another concern was at wide receiver, where running back Rex Burkhead had to take snaps during the playoff loss to the Colts. Despite this deep concern, the Bengals failed to add a receiver until the seventh round in what was a very deep receiver class.
The Bengals were able to sign veteran Denarius Moore who has had some success in the past when coached by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson during their time at Oakland together. Jackson was also said to have coveted seventh round pick Mario Alford, but I think he will have to beat out Brandon Tate for return duties if he’s going to be active on game days. So let’s take a look at what the current depth chart looks like.
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NFL Films and Hard Knocks won’t want anything to do with the Bengals this offseason as there is no spicy training camp battles, no hold outs, and no quarterback competition, which is how many of us like it. It looks like the top five receivers are locked in, the top eight offensive line spots look taken, and the top three running backs are here and established, with only a spot for either James Wilder, Jr. or Rex Burkhead.
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An interesting item to keep an eye on is the third tight end spot where a battle will take place. Fifth-round rookie C.J. Uzomah will look to capture the last spot competing against second-year Jake Murphy and a couple giant college free agents: John Peters (6’8″, 265) and Matt Lengel (6’8″, 272). I’m excited to see these young guys on the field. Hue Jackson thinks they have the tight ends now to keep Ryan Hewitt at fullback/H-back; he had a great year in that role last year.
We will see some competition at back up quarterback and all of the competitors have a chance to either be cut or the number two guy. With the signing of Terrell Pryor, I can’t help but think he might be the leader, even though A.J. McCarron has been here. The Bengals have never went with a totally unexperienced guy at backup, so unless McCarron really looks good in the preseason and training camp, I have a hard time believing he’s anything more than Cincinnati’s third string quarterback.