With the Bengals’ first preseason game on Saturday, Zac Taylor’s initial depth chart is our first glimpse at where different players are in the mind of the new head coach. With a few starting spots still up for grabs, below we look at how the roster is beginning to shape up.
Jeff Driskel currently has the edge over 4th round pick Ryan Finley as the back up to Andy Dalton. This, however, like almost of these spots, will be greatly affected by their performances in the preseason games. Undrafted free agent Jake Dolegala should not be completely discounted as far as making the roster.
One of the most competitive starting positions in all of camp is left guard. Veteran addition John Jerry is currently listed as the starter. Christian Westerman and Michael Jordan are listed with the second and third teams respectively. However, all three players have been taking reps with the first team. Andre Smith is logged as the back up for both left and right tackle.
Cody Core and Josh Malone are still noted as the backup outside receivers. This may irritate some Bengals fans who are hoping to see Auden Tate overtake Core. With A.J. Green and John Ross both sidelined, there are plenty of first team reps available for receivers to impress.
There is hope that Tate will find a spot on the final 53 as he has been taking reps with the projected starters on special teams, which could be the key to him overtaking Core. Special teams expert Alex Erickson has been turning heads in camp and is logged as the backup slot receiver behind Tyler Boyd.
C.J. Uzomah is somewhat surprisingly listed over Tyler Eifert as the starter. Taylor may be looking to limit Eifert’s number of snaps due to his injury history. 2017 7th rounder Mason Schreck’s spot on the roster may be in jeopardy. He is listed below Cethan Carter and Jordan Franks.
Sam Hubbard is shown as the first team right defensive end ahead of Carl Lawson. Many Bengals fans are hoping that Lawson is given a high amount of snaps this year given how impressive he looked before tearing his ACL last year. Lawson has also had a strong camp If he and Hubbard meet expectations, along with Carlos Dunlap staying healthy, expect big things off the edge in the Queen City in 2019.
Linebacker depth looks rather thin with Malik Jefferson stated to back up Preston Brown at middle linebacker. The only rookie listed above third team status is Germaine Pratt. He is shown as the second string weak inside linebacker behind Jordan Evans. Bengals rookies often seemed to see limited participation under Marvin Lewis and this frustrated many outsiders. Unfortunately, the first depth chart under a new staff portrayed more of the same.
Since the depth chart is stated in base, there is no pecking order for nickel cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and B.W. Webb. Contract numbers dictate that Dennard would have the upper hand.
Despite being recorded as the second string kick and punt returner behind Alex Erickson, Darius Phillips is recorded behind KeiVarae Russell and Tony Lippett at outside cornerback. There are no surprises at safety, with Clayton Fejedelem and Brandon Wilson backing up Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates respectively.
There are limited surprises on the special teams. Kevin Huber and Clark Harris are listed at punter and long snapper. Rookie Tristan Vizcaino looks to do better than Jake Elliott did last year and overtake Randy Bullock at kicker. B.W. Webb, Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone back up Darius Phillips (second string) and Alex Erickson (starter) on kick and punt returns.