We take a look at which players the Bengals will keep and which ones will get cut. Notable players on the bubble include Auden Tate and Cedric Ogbuehi.
The Bengals are facing difficult decisions all across the lineup, but they have to make them regardless. This afternoon, the team will cut the roster to 53 players, leaving almost half their players without a job entering the season. Expect some surprises – this day is always crazy.
Below are our final roster projections. There is a lot that goes into these decisions (although admittedly less for us than the Bengals), and not everyone that’s a camp standout can stay. Often, it’s small things, like familiarity with a scheme or play on special teams, that can be the difference. With that being said, here’s our 53-man roster projection.
Well, one quick caveat. This is actually a 54-man projection. The Bengals have the luxury of keeping an extra player for a week because of Vontaze Burfict’s suspension. We’ve listed Burfict, but for the purposes of the projection, he’s not on the roster currently.
At the skill positions, there are some of the toughest positional battles of all. The quarterback position, though, isn’t one of them. Andy Dalton has been nothing short of spectacular during the preseason, coming in with the highest passer rating of any QB throughout the preseason. Jeff Driskel has elevated himself above Matt Barkley and Logan Woodside as well.
We discussed the Tra Carson vs. Brian Hill debate yesterday, and though it will be close, Carson seems to be the guy. Mark Walton should be safe as well. At receiver, Alex Erickson has all but assured himself a spot, and Josh Malone has been really explosive during the preseason. We’re still projecting Auden Tate to make the team over Cody Core, although there are reports that suggest Core will be the last guy. This would be a disappointment, and hopefully the Bengals come to their senses before final cuts.
The last position that hasn’t been discussed much is the tight end position. Eifert, Kroft, and Uzomah should all be safe, especially with solid preseason performances from Uzomah. The last spot, which may be more of an H-back role, has belonged to Ryan Hewitt the last few years. Cethan Carter, though, has been a great receiving weapon during the preseason and one of the best special teamers on the Bengals. His abilities as a receiver and special teamer should earn him the last “tight end” spot.
Along the lines, there aren’t as many tough calls. On defense, the nine guys listed above are almost all locks to make the team. With the release of Chris Baker, that secured the roles for just about every other defensive linemen. Theoretically, Andrew Brown could get the axe, but that would leave just three defensive tackles, which seems unlikely. Don’t expect anything crazy out of this position.
On offense, there isn’t much more to the line. Glenn, Boling, Price, Westerman, Hopkins, Fisher, and Redmond are all pretty much locks at this point. Bobby Hart is no guarantee, but he is a veteran tackle who can provide some semblance of depth, and maybe even start. Cedric Ogbuehi is the one guy I’m sure the Bengals wish they could cut, but can’t. He’ll be the fourth tackle entering the season. Other guys like Kent Perkins or TJ Johnson made good runs, but likely won’t make the final roster.
William Jackson III
Along the rest of the defense, there are some more tough calls that we have discussed lately. At linebacker, Burfict (suspended, as noted), Brown, Vigil, Evans, and Jefferson are safe. At this point, Vincent Rey should also be safe, especially with Burfict out. Rey could get cut once Burfict returns, but that would still be a surprise. Nickerson should be the last guy to make the team, as he’s proven himself as both a linebacker and special teamer. While cutting Junior Joseph may be tough, Nickerson has outperformed him.
At corner, keeping just five guys is a little thin, but Josh Shaw at safety has the versatility to be a sort of sixth corner. Behind the top three, Russell is an obvious keep, as he’s been a star for the Bengals this preseason. Darius Phillips as the last guy is a difficult decision, with Davontae Harris, Tony McRae, and CJ Goodwin on the roster still. However, he’s been solid in the slot, and offers value on special teams as well. For those reasons, he gets the last spot.
At safety, Williams, Bates, Fejedelem, and Shaw (for the reasons mentioned above) will definitely make the team. Trayvon Henderson over Brandon Wilson, who is one of my favorite players on the team, is a tough call, but I’m infatuated with Henderson’s game. He played excellently against Indy, which may have sealed his spot. Henderson is clearly more polished as a safety right now than Wilson, which is more valuable to the Bengals than Wilson’s long-term upside. I would not be surprised if the team keeps Wilson, though.