Monday, May 19, 2014
Bengals' post-draft depth chart: Offense
By Coley Harvey
OK, it's only late May, and the Cincinnati Bengals still haven't held an offseason organized team activity (OTA). Still, that doesn't mean we can't try to break down their depth chart.
Now that the draft is over and a few additional signings have been made, we're spending this week looking at the three phases of Cincinnati's game, and taking a stab at how the team's position-by-position rotations may look when training camp opens July 24 (NOTE: the original date was July 23, but the Bengals last week pushed the camp's start back a day).
We're starting with the offense:
Quarterback 1. Andy Dalton 2. Jason Campbell 3. AJ McCarron 4. Matt Scott Analysis: Dalton, Campbell and McCarron are likely to be the only quarterbacks the Bengals keep on their 53-man roster, but Scott will provide them an extra arm to help keep the others fresh before the season starts. A 10-year veteran, Campbell was signed this offseason specifically to give Dalton a mentor -- one he hasn't had on the field before. McCarron, a rookie, isn't expected to see significant playing time this year.
Running back 1. Giovani Bernard 2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis 3. Jeremy Hill 4. Cedric Peerman 5. Rex Burkhead Others: James Wilder Jr., Jeff Scott Analysis: Green-Ellis is and will be the player in this group to really watch for the next several days, weeks and possibly months. His rather lackluster performance last season, coupled with the Bengals' second-round drafting of Hill seem to be signs the end in Cincinnati may be near for Green-Ellis. Regardless, Bernard certainly looks like the team's starter at the position, with Hill anticipated to earn some playing time after being drafted so high. The other four have opportunities to play on special teams or aid in the Bengals' new rush-heavy offense.
Fullback/H-back 1. Orson Charles 2. (Tyler Eifert)
Others: Ryan Hewitt, Nikita Whitlock, (Domata Peko)
Analysis: Cincinnati likely will keep its H-back setup from last season, only occasionally running out an extra backfield blocker for certain situations. Last season, Charles and Eifert, the Bengals' rookie tight end, played the position. Hewitt was a fullback and tight end at Stanford. Whitlock was a defensive tackle at Wake Forest. An undersized tackle, Whitlock's conversion to offense is reminiscent of what the Bengals did last season with Peko, the defensive tackle who was used as an extra blocker in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Receivers 1. A.J. Green 2. Marvin Jones 3. Mohamed Sanu 4. Dane Sanzenbacher 5. Brandon Tate 6. Ryan Whalen 7. Cobi Hamilton 8. James White Others: Colin Lockett, Alex Neutz Analysis: There's no way anyone other than Green takes over the No. 1 spot, and after his breakout second season, Jones appears to have taken over at No. 2 opposite Green. Sanu also has a chance to be used at the No. 2 spot. The Bengals hope to use him a little more often this year than they did in the last. With Andrew Hawkins now gone in free agency, Sanzenbacher is the likely slot receiver, with others expected to participate. The Bengals are hoping this will be a breakout year for the players on the bottom of the depth chart, such as Whalen and Hamilton.
Tight ends 1. Jermaine Gresham 2. Tyler Eifert
3. Kevin Brock Analysis: Gresham earns top honors here strictly because he has more overall experience than any of his fellow tight ends. He and Eifert, however, play complementary roles and should be on the field often at the same time. Brock was an end-of-season acquisition when Gresham and Eifert both had late-season injuries. He could be a candidate for release later this offseason.
Centers 1. Mike Pollak 2. Russell Bodine 3. Trevor Robinson 4. T.J. Johnson Analysis: Don't be surprised if by the end of training camp Bodine ends up in the No. 1 spot. It's not completely out of the realm of possibility. Bengals coaches really liked the young center during the pre-draft process, and praise his strength and physicality -- two traits the offensive line will need in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's scheme. Coaches still like Pollak, too, and the Bengals re-signed him to a two-year deal for a reason. He also gives them some veteran experience at the position.
Guards 1. Kevin Zeitler (RG)
2. Clint Boling (LG)
3. Mike Pollak
4. Tanner Hawkinson Others: Dan France, Trey Hopkins Analysis: The offensive line is one of the thinnest position groups on the team. While the Bengals may need more help at tackle than at guard, they still could be in a position of signing either France or Hopkins. Without those two and with Pollak possibly starting at center, the Bengals only really have three true guards on the roster. Given the rate of injury that can occur at guard -- look no further than Boling's season-ending ACL tear in Week 13, and Zeitler's foot injury late last season -- Cincinnati needs more blockers. There seems to be a chance Boling could miss at least a portion of training camp, meaning France and Hopkins have an even more legitimate shot to make the team.
Tackles 1. Andrew Whitworth (LT)
2. Andre Smith (RT)
3. Marshall Newhouse Others: Curtis Feigt Analysis: Like with the guards, the Bengals need tackles. Feigt has a decent shot of making the 53-man roster because the team is deficient in that area. Newhouse takes over Anthony Collins' role as the rover who can play both the left and right tackle spots if Whitworth or Smith aren't able to play. Twice last year Collins had to start for Whitworth, who fought through nagging knee injuries.