It was all good just a year ago for these Cincinnati Bengals rookies. Alas, what a difference one trip around the sun can make. The good vibes from last year can turn into questions and uncertainty for some young players just one season later.
The repercussions are being felt throughout the Bengals roster with the NFL Draft and the major free-agent signings in the books. The team cannot head into the regular season with a 90-man roster. Even some of the young players we were excited about after the 2022 draft and the preseason are susceptible to not making the final 53.
Here are three second-year players for Cincinnati under pressure after the 2023 NFL Draft.
La Sale High School’s Drue Chrisman is under enormous pressure to perform this offseason. While heading into his third year removed from The Ohio State University, Chrisman qualifies as a second-year pro after having accrued only one season under NFL rules.
Whether it is long punts, elevated hangtime, or flawless holds on every snap, Christian must be as close to perfect as he can be if he is to hold off sixth-round draft pick Brad Robbins. However, even that might not be enough to win the job. Chrisman may have to hope that Robbins has a few missteps along the way.
While Darrin Simmons and the coaching staff will classify the impending competition as “open,” it is anything but. The Bengals spent a sixth-round pick on a punter, passing up on talented players at other positions in the process. Cincinnati did not use draft capital on Robbins to have a position battle at punter. It is Robbins’ job to lose.
Chrisman does stand a chance, albeit a small one. He has averaged 47.8 yards per punt in his young NFL career. Robbins averaged 43 yards per punt in his five years at Michigan. His best year came in 2021 when he averaged 46.3 yards per punt—an advantage in favor of the former Ohio State punter.
However, even that does not seem to matter at this point. Coach Simmons essentially said as much when he stated Robbins “brings something different” and called the newly acquired punter a “hangtime guy.”
Former Bengals defensive back turned NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots says this aspect of Robbins’ game is an important factor and points to the end of last year’s AFC Championship game as why.
As for holding for field goals, Robbins also had that responsibility in college. The former Wolverine punter was the full-time holder for kicker Jake Moody who was selected in the third round by the 49ers.
If Robbins indeed prevails in the battle of punters, the team would save $870,000 in cap space with a dead money figure of zero per Over the Cap if they were to move on from Chrisman.