Bengals’ Keith Wenning Offers Potential As Practice Squad Candidate


Jun 17, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Keith Wenning (4) throws a pass during minicamp at Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After releasing Terrelle Pryor last week, the Cincinnati Bengals wasted little time in replenishing their quarterback depth.  Yesterday, the team decided to sign second-year quarterback, and former Baltimore Ravens sixth-round selection Keith Wenning.

Keith Wenning has many appealing qualities as a quarterback.  At 6’3″, 220 pounds, he offers the requisite physical makeup to play the quarterback position and to withstand the hits he may take.  He also offers great football character and the leadership intangibles that are so vital for quarterbacks.  Per his draft profile:

"“Experienced, four-year starter with a solid build. Very smart and understands the offense. Outstanding football character and personal character — works at his craft, is driven to succeed and will represent a franchise well. Respected leader — two-time team captain. Football is very improtant [sic] to him. Very tough and highly competitive. Has directed 10 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career. Consistent in his approach.”"

Wenning was able to set Ball State (who play in the MAC conference) records for passing completions, attempts, yards, and touchdowns, so the school clearly had confidence in him.  Wenning improved statistically in each of his four collegiate years and the team followed his lead and improved along with him; Ball State finished with a 10-3 record in his senior season, but lost their Bowl game to Arkansas State (23-20).

The criticism around Wenning lies in his arm ability and his collegiate conference.  While his arm doesn’t seem to be the strongest (again per his draft profile), Wenning’s arm actually reflects one that, in a pinch, the Bengals could utilize effectively.

"“Heavy-bodied, dink-and-dunk, rhythm passer who could be challenged to fit the ball into tight NFL windows. Has the makeup desired in a No. 3 QB and could develop into a functional backup in a West Coast passing game.”"

Regardless of his arm strength, the Bengals ask starting quarterback Andy Dalton to make short, quick, easy-to-read throws that offers their plethora of offensive weapons to work in space; most of them excel at this.  Wenning seemingly could handle those duties while having the mindset and seeming mindset to get players behind him.  There’s ample reason to believe with Hue Jackson’s creativity and the number of weapons in Cincinnati, the team could “dink-and-dunk” their way to a couple of victories.

As far as his collegiate competition goes, there’s little debate that it is amongst college’s non-elite.  With that said, the MAC conference has produced some great NFL talent over the years.  Last year’s rookie phenom Khalil Mack (Buffalo) hit the NFL stage in a big way.  The university also produced Green Bay running back James Starks.  Kent State has produced players such as 2015 Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman as well as two-time champion James Harrison and tight end extraordinaire Antonio Gates.  The list goes on (ESPN offers “players by college“; check it out).  Clearly the MAC conference is doing something right.

I have no delusions about Keith Wenning.  He is currently a prospective practice squad quarterback who will likely turn into that at best.  With the mindset that a fan can only pray that the team never has to turn to its practice squad quarterback; the Bengals have taken the time to upgrade the position significantly over the past couple of seasons.  With A.J. McCarron likely acting as the team’s backup, and Wenning potentially landing on the practice squad, the Bengals have done the right things to prepare itself for any situation at quarterback.

Next: A.J. McCarron Is On The Rise