Bengals: Top Under-the-Radar Receiving Threats

Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jake Kumerow (84) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jake Kumerow (84) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bengals’ number one priority this offseason will be replenishing their receiving corps. Which Bengals pass catchers could make a surprise push?

For any team other than the Bengals, losing three major receiving threats in one offseason would probably be a deathblow. Their passing attack should be shot, but the Bengals are unique. Their unmatched depth means that even last season’s backups are starting caliber. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the Bengals’ most exciting new prospects in the second rotation.

1. CJ Uzomah, TE

With Tyler Eifert likely out of the lineup for a few weeks with an injury he sustained in the Pro Bowl, everyone looked to Tyler Kroft to take a step up. While Kroft has looked fine so far this training camp, observers think he’s been outshined by one of his competitors.

Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Enter CJ Uzomah, the Bengals’ second-year tight end out of Auburn. At 6’5″ and 262 lbs, he’s even bigger than the already massive Eifert and Kroft, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from how he moves. Uzomah’s graceful athleticism has been on display early and often at Bengals training camp, and his size has allowed him to overpower and outreach coverage.

Uzomah was only able to reel in one catch as a rookie, but look for that to improve in his second season. With this kind of strong and consistent play in camp and a gap at the Bengals’ tight end spot for a few weeks, don’t be surprised if Uzomah steps in and outshines the assumed starter Tyler Kroft.

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2. Jake Kumerow, WR 

When asked about their team’s young and lengthy receiving threats, most Bengals fans will first mention Cody Core, the Ole Miss product that the Bengals took in the sixth round of this year’s draft. These fans probably don’t know Jake Kumerow, who has a good chance to overtake Core on the depth chart by the end of the summer.

Jake Kumerow has the inside track to a position in the Bengals receiver rotation this year. Bumped to the practice squad last year due to WR depth, Kumerow now has valuable experience in the Bengals system where his rookie companions do not. Don’t let the Bengals’ draft hype scare you. Kumerow leapfrogging Core will be good for the Bengals.

At 6’4″, Kumerow towers over all Cincinnati receivers not named AJ Green. He’s got a quick release, and Bengals coaches have been praising his speed and agility in the open field as well. While his route running could use work, that should come with more reps as he is integrated into the first and second team offenses. Look for Kumerow to get plenty of action this preseason.

3. John Peters, TE

At 6’8″ and 261 lbs, John Peters may be the record holder for most inconspicuous giant on earth. Even dedicated fans of the Orange and Black have never heard of Peters. But, maybe it’s a good thing. With his hands and frame, he could be perfect secret weapon material.

Peters has been flying under the radar since college. After graduating Mt. St. Joseph (a Division III school in Cincinnati), the hometown product spent a year looking for work before signing a futures contract with the Bengals last February. Peters played a few preseason games for Cincinnati last year, but with two newly drafted TE’s in front of him and a healthy Eifert, he was ultimately cut from the final roster.

A wide receiver in college, Peters’ background catching the football will definitely help his chances to make it in the NFL. While he’ll still likely be a bench guy for much of the season — if he makes the team — how long can a physical 6’8″ tight end with hands really be kept off the field? Watch out Matt Lengel. Your backup TE roster spot from last year might be in jeopardy.

While these guys are all exciting prospects, the unfortunate reality is that, besides Uzomah, they probably won’t see too many relevant minutes on the field this year. But that’s okay. Give them some time to develop. Until then, the Bengals’ second team should be a blast to watch.

Next: Camp Updates