Another second-year player under added pressure is safety Tycen Anderson.
Cincinnati aggressively addressed the safety position this offseason. First, the team re-signed safety, Michael Thomas. Then they signed free agent Nick Scott to a three-year, $12M contract.
Next, the Bengals drafted Alabama safety Jordan Battle in the third round in the 2023 draft. Thomas, Scott, and Battle, coupled with last year’s first-round pick, Dax Hill, appear to be locks to make the roster. The only question now is how many safeties will the team keep?
Last year the Bengals kept five safeties on the final 53-man roster. If that is the case again this year, Anderson, a fifth-round selection in the 2022 draft, should be considered a lock. If they keep only four, that would be cause for concern for the former fifth-round pick.
Anderson is not in immediate danger of losing out on a roster spot. First, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is not averse to using three-safety packages. Using more safeties requires having more of them available on the roster.
Something else working in Anderson’s favor is not only his versatility but Dax Hill’s as well. Both players can play slot corner if needed. Furthermore, the Bengals could want to use Hill as a slot corner or even on the boundary.
While at Michigan, Hill was used primarily as a slot corner who showed the ability to cover, tackle well, and blitz. He got his first career NFL start at slot corner against Tampa Bay late last season.
As it stands now, however, the working theory is that Hill will take over the role left vacant by Jessie Bates. Scott will be used in a fashion similar to how Vonn Bell was deployed in the Bengals' secondary. Coach Simmons will rely on Michael Thomas as a special teams maven. Battle, as a third-round pick, is a lock to make the roster unless something catastrophic occurs. That leaves one potential spot, which should go to Anderson.
There remains a good chance that the former Toledo Rocket remains on the final 53-man roster once it is announced. Nevertheless, while he might be under less pressure than Chrisman and Gunter, how the team aggressively addressed the safety position will put more pressure on the second-year safety to perform and is something to monitor as the offseason and preseason progress.
Even though we had high hopes for all of Cincinnati's young players, the Bengals' acquisitions of talent at their respective positions will add further pressure on several second-year players to have breakout performances in training camp and the preseason.
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