Bengals: What to expect from Nick McCloud and Wyatt Ray

Wyatt Ray (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Wyatt Ray (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals added two players off waivers to their 53-man roster. Here’s what to expect this season from the newcomers.

The roster is set (for now) for the Bengals as teams have released players and subsequently claimed others from opposing teams. Cincinnati trimmed down its roster with a flurry of releases but ended up picking up two new players from other teams.

Nick McCloud and Wyatt Ray will both be joining the Bengals 53-man roster to provide depth to thin areas for Cincinnati. McCloud, a defensive back, and Ray, a defensive end, were viewed as better options than players who had been with Cincinnati throughout the entire offseason.

Cincinnati has a mostly full practice squad now, with the idea that they are not done making moves before the regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Even with any additional moves, they are not likely to impact Cincinnati more than the additions of McCloud and Ray.

Unless a major trade is pulled off (there have been no rumblings of anything like that happening with Cincinnati) the Bengals now know the team they will be fielding throughout the 2021 season.

Bengals defensive line needs as much depth as possible

Feelings around the Cincinnati Bengals defensive line have been somewhat of a roller coaster this offseason. It started as a concern until Joseph Ossai was the star of the Bengals opening preseason game against the Buccaneers.

Then, word of his injury brought in even more concern about the Bengals’ ability to last a full season at the position. When news broke he could be back by the opening game the feeling of hope returned, until a season-ending injury has knocked him out of the lineup.

For Cincinnati, the addition of Wyatt Ray was a move to add a quality depth piece. Ray has been in the league for a year with Tennessee but did well enough to stay on the main squad.

After being released from the Titans, the Bengals felt that his experience and understanding of what it takes in the NFL was better than the preseason tape they had on any of their guys. The hope is to not see Ray in the lineup too often, but he will likely get snaps to relieve the starting lineup each game.

Brand new secondary for Bengals starting to look thin

The other player the Bengals added is first-year cornerback, Nick McCloud. An undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, McCloud was able to impress the coaching staff with his preseason play. One of the other positives about McCloud’s history is that he was a long-term starter at North Carolina State before transferring to Notre Dame for one year.

McCloud comes in to fill the position of backup while the Cincinnati secondary recovers from injuries. Trae Waynes, Eli Apple, and Darius Phillips are all either injured or recovering from major injuries. This is a bit concerning considering how much Cincinnati is going to rely on this new-look unit to transform the defense.

McCloud’s role will be to provide a healthy body on game day and to help learn and develop. McCloud will likely not see a ton of playing time (maybe he will get some good looks on special teams) but this seems like more of a long-term move by Cincinnati.

Taking a flyer on a player they believe might be able to develop into a future starting corner helps fill a need now and gives the team a chance to snag a guy they really liked. But for this year, you likely won’t see McCloud getting too much playing time, aside from special teams.

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Let’s see what these two have to offer the Cincinnati Bengals.