Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; A detailed view of Cincinnati Bengals helmet on the grass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In case you missed it, the Cincinnati Bengals released their 53-man roster and announced their practice squad. The 2015 season is right around the corner, and the Bengals will roll with what they currently have. Here are a few of my observations after seeing Cincinnati’s roster and practice squad.
1. All Nine Draft Picks Make the Roster
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) poses for a photo after being selected as the number 21st overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
My first reaction was that all nine of the draft picks from April’s draft made Cincinnati’s 53-man roster. As most Bengals fans know, left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, the Bengals’ first round pick, is on Cincy’s PUP list–but he’ll be on the roster once he’s eligible to return. The Bengals selected Jake Fisher in the second round, Tyler Kroft and P.J. Dawson in the third round, Marcus Hardison and Josh Shaw in the fourth, C.J. Uzomah in the fifth, Derron Smith in the sixth and Mario Alford in the seventh; all of these players made the roster.
And the Bengals’ rookies looked good during the preseason. Derron Smith was the only Bengals rookie who truly seemed to have to fight for his spot on the roster; he outplayed veteran Shiloh Keo and earned the final safety spot in Cincinnati.
A few of the Bengals’ rookies could be inactive on game days. However Fisher, Kroft, Dawson, and Shaw all looked good during the preseason and should see some early action on the active roster. Credit scouting director Duke Tobin and his staff for Cincinnati’s successful track record of developing young players, because the influx of quality youth is needed to prepare the roster for a transition next year as several Bengals veterans will have expiring contracts.
2. Linebacker Talent Questions
This is an interesting group because once again Bengals’ linebacking corps look like one of the weakest position groups on the team. The one bright spot, third-rounder P.J. Dawson, will likely be banished to special teams; he probably won’t see a lot of snaps from scrimmage, at least early on. Pass-rusher Chris Carter fills the last linebacker spot, but I didn’t see him play much traditional backer in the preseason. He is projected to be one of Cincinnati’s nickel ends, but I don’t know how he would hold up if pressed into significant snaps at one of the outside linebacker spots.
With the health history of Rey Maualuga and Emmanuel Lamur and productivity drop-off with A.J. Hawk‘s age, the Bengals could be in big trouble at the linebacker spot should an injury strike the position early in the season. We can only hope that Vontaze Burfict is ready after he comes off of the PUP list on October 19th. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a veteran free agent brought in after the first week or maybe even a trade.
Next: Margus Hunt, Practice Squad and More