The Cincinnati Bengals signed seven undrafted free agents on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. While these tend to be lottery tickets or training camp depth, they should get plenty of reps during preseason.
Let's take a closer look at three guys who are worth keeping a close eye on once the starters get pulled.
Mac Hippenhammer, WR
Should Hippenhammer catch a touchdown at Paycor Stadium, it won't be his first at the home of the Bengals. The Miami (Ohio) wideout grabbed one against the Cincinnati Bearcats in Week 3 of college football last year.
It won't be easy for the Fort Wayne native to crack the wide receiver room. It's a stacked group, that said Charlie Jones' introduction could mean there are more slot receivers than true wideouts. That may play into Hippenhammer's favor considering he played out wide on 82.4% of his college snaps per PFF.
Hippenhammer has good ball-tracking and body control. He converted that into two 700+ receiving yard seasons at Miami (Ohio). That makes him the most productive of the three UDFA receivers the Bengals signed and most likely to challenge for a roster spot.
Calvin Tyler Jr., RB
The Bengals running back group has plenty of depth but a lot of question marks. Joe Mixon's long-term future is uncertain, Chase Brown is a fifth-round rookie, Chris Evans has yet to make the jump, and Trayveon Williams has shown potential without getting meaningful snaps.
Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr will have a tough task to make the 53-man roster but remains an intriguing player. Despite his diminutive 5'8" stature, he has quick feet, good vision, and a surprising contact balance. He surpassed 1,000 yards rushing last year for the Aggies and will look to take advantage of snaps in the preseason.
Interestingly, in his freshman year at Oregon State, Tyler returned nine kicks for 182 yards at an average of 20.2 yards per return. That may be something he has to resurrect to show his value to the Bengals in 2023.
Jaxson Kirkland, OG
A couple of years ago a player like Jaxson Kirkland may have been a shoe-in to the Bengals roster. The offensive line has since been torn down and rebuilt, primarily through free agency. Now, Kirkland faces a tough battle to make the 53.
At 6'7" and 321 pounds, Kirkland played most of his college career at left tackle. An ankle injury in 2021 derailed his career and led to him having to withdraw from the 2022 draft and reinstate himself with the Huskies. Last year, he made the switch to left guard and per PFF, didn't allow a sack.
Kirkland's main competition will be veterans Max Scharping and Hakeem Adeniji. Both of those guys are in their last contract year with the Bengals. If Kirkland can prove he can withstand the rigours of an NFL training camp and match the level of the aforementioned duo, the Bengals may value his versatility and upside.