Bengals News

Are the Bengals’ Late Round Rookies Safe from Roster Cuts?

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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Jack Jones #25 of the USC Trojans misses a tackle as Darius Phillips #4 of the Western Michigan Broncos returns a kickoff for a touchdown to tie the score 28-28 during the fourth quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Jack Jones #25 of the USC Trojans misses a tackle as Darius Phillips #4 of the Western Michigan Broncos returns a kickoff for a touchdown to tie the score 28-28 during the fourth quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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3rd and 4th Round

The Bengals had three picks in these two rounds, and likely landed three future contributors with those picks. In the third round, they nabbed local product Sam Hubbard and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson, then came back in the fourth round and drafted Miami running back Mark Walton (above). Hubbard, especially after his performance against Dallas, has clearly earned his spot on this roster. He will be a great spot pass rusher and could develop into a serious rotation lineman.

Jefferson should be safe as well, but it’s not a guarantee. Coming into the draft, it was clear that Jefferson was going to be a project. His skill set and instincts at linebacker were raw in college, and that has shown in the preseason. His athleticism is definitely elite at the position, but he needs to refine it to make an impact on this roster. With such a high pick invested in him, the Bengals will almost certainly let him develop for a couple years, even if he’s inactive this year.

Walton is an even bigger question mark than Jefferson. Walton wasn’t the raw product Jefferson was in college, although he was rehabbing an ankle injury his last year at Miami. He could eventually take over the backup running back mantle, but he has definitely been rough to this point. With his upside, it would be surprising to see the Bengals cut him, but it is troubling to see such poor performances thus far. Walton needs to show at least something to ensure he won’t get cut this season.

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