Bengals: Breakout Candidates for the 2016 Season

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Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of the Cincinnati Bengals as they huddle during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of the Cincinnati Bengals as they huddle during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 16, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard (21) reacts to breaking up a pass intended for Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (not pictured) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 16, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard (21) reacts to breaking up a pass intended for Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (not pictured) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

As the season slowly approaches, it is time to take a look at the potential breakout candidates for 2016.

To fit into the category of breakout player, it can be based on many variables. Draft position, injuries, years in the system and vacancies on a roster all factor into these choices. An honorable mention goes to Andrew Billings who just missed out on this list.

Darqueze Dennard (CB)

Entering his third season now, expectations have risen for Dennard to have a breakout season. A first-round pick in 2014 (24th overall), the Michigan State cornerback is on the return from a shoulder injury he suffered in November last year against Arizona.

Having only played 250 snaps across two seasons, mainly because of Leon Hall and injuries, now is his time to step into the slot corner. Leon Hall still may sign on for the 2016 season with the Bengals, but if he does not then Dennard must sit between Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick. Last season he had the slot role when Hall was injured and performed well prior to his own injury.

Cincinnati drafted another cornerback in this year’s draft with first-round pick William Jackson III. The Bengals now have four first-round picks at the cornerback position, making spots very competitive. According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Dennard spoke about “seeing himself as a No. 1 corner” and that “everyone wants to be a number one, competing and pushing each other hard is going to make us better as a whole.”

Time will tell how Dennard will perform this season, but with the Bengals more than likely to avoid throwing Jackson into the deep end, this is Dennard’s chance to breakout and become the player the Bengals believe he can be.

Next: New Look on the Offensive Line

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