Opportunity Knocks for Alex Erickson
The Bengals receiving group is in a unique spot and a former undrafted free agent may be primed for a breakout year.
Ever since making the roster, three year veteran Alex Erickson has done everything the Bengals have asked of him and done it well. Thanks to the rules, the art of the return is somewhat of a lost one in the NFL.
When the chance for a return does present itself, having a guy who knows how to get something out of it is a real luxury. Erickson is just that for the Bengals. He has been top ten in average yards per kick return in two of his three seasons. Also, he posted a career best 10.8 yards per punt return in 2018.
The former Wisconsin Badger has not seen the field much with the starting offense in his career. He has just 38 career catches, but has a very respectable 11 yard per catch average.
The best thing about Erickson is so simple that it is often overlooked. When he has the ball in his hands, good things usually happen. The same can not be said of the other Bengals receivers not named A.J. Green or Tyler Boyd.
Yes, John Ross had seven touchdown grabs last year, but he still has a tendency to disappear for three quarters of a game or more. Guys like Auden Tate and Cody Core have yet to turn athleticism into meaningful production. There still seems to be time for Ross, but Tate and Core may be on the roster bubble.
There is no reason why Erickson should not be given a chance to be more of an impact player on offense. He is sure handed and a shifty runner. It isn’t hard to see him filling the “moveable chess piece” role like Brandin Cooks does for the Rams. The tweet below from Bengals podcaster Joe Goodberry showing Erickson running a jet sweep with the first team offense hints that rookie head coach Zac Taylor might be thinking along these lines.
What cannot be overlooked is that Green and Boyd are entering the final year of their deals. Both have expressed desire to stay in stripes.
However, the longer we go without word of any extension talks, the more nervous Bengals fans should get. Not only has Erickson earned more chances with his play, but it is a good idea to throw a lot at him this year to better prepare for the worst case scenario of both top receivers leaving after this season.