Bengals Rookie Class Offers Hope

CINCINNATI OH - DECEMBER 19: Clint Stitser #3 of the Cincinnati Bengals kicks a field goal against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on December 19 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

One of the few bright spots of the otherwise dismal 2010 Cincinnati Bengals campaign has been the encouraging performance of last April's draft class. As noted previously, DE Carlos Dunlap, the Bengals' second-round pick eight months ago, is currently second overall in sacks among rookies, and first among rookie DEs, this year -- and that's after playing in just 10 games. But Dunlap isn't the only Bengal rookie making some noise.

Among rookie receivers, third-round pick Jordan Shipley is second in both receptions and yards, trailing only Tampa Bay's fourth-round wunderkind Mike Williams. He has outdistanced all of the other popular WRs mocked to the Bengals prior to last April's draft, including Golden Tate, Arrelious Benn, Demaryius Thomas and Brandon LaFell.

First-round pick Jermaine Gresham ranks seventh among rookie receivers by yards and 13th by receptions. He also set a new team record for receptions by a rookie TE.

DT Geno Atkins, a fourth-round pick, has made his presence felt as well. With 2.5 sacks, he ranks 13th among rookies, but 4th among rookie DTs. He has just half a sack less than Gerald McCoy, who was taken with the third overall pick in the first round.

And finally, no list of top Bengals rookie performers would be complete with mention of the NFL's leading rookie field goal kicker. Kickoffs? Not so much...but this year I think we should just take our good news where we can find it.

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