Cincinnati Bengals: Riley Lees provides a reliable return specialist

Leigh Oleszczak
Riley Lees - Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Riley Lees - Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals signed Riley Lees out of Northwestern as a UDFA and while he played wide receiver in college, he could serve as a return specialist for the Bengals, joining Brandon Wilson in the role.

Lees is probably best described as an offensive weapon rather than one single position. He played wide receiver at Northwestern, totaling 111 receptions for 1,093 yards and nine touchdowns during his four-year career with the Wildcats. It wasn’t shocking that he went undrafted but the Bengals obviously saw something in him to give him a shot on special teams.

Pat Fitzgerald, the head coach of Northwestern, tweeted about Lees landing with the Bengals and let the team know what they’d be getting with his versatile offensive weapon. He notes that Lees can play in the slot and out wide while also returning kicks.

Bringing Lees in is just adding depth on special teams, as Brandon Wilson has blossomed into one of the best kick returners in the league and the team wouldn’t be looking to replace him. Rather, they’d be offering a nice backup or third-string option for Wilson.

The Cincinnati Bengals might have found another solid kick returner with the addition of Riley Lees.

Wilson re-signed with the Bengals on a two-year deal earlier this year and it was well-deserved for the former sixth-round pick. He’s going to continue to be the go-to guy there, but teams tend to roll with multiple specialists and Lees has the potential to be another nice option there. He had 26 kickoff returns in college and totaled 542 yards while averaging 20.8 yards per season.

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Lees probably isn’t going to make much of an impact as a wide receiver for Cincinnati, especially considering how stacked the position is looking. If he wants to make it onto the Bengals’ roster this year, he’ll need to shine on special teams this summer and if he can do that, he could carve out a role as a return man for Cincinnati moving forward.