After the 2010 NFL Draft: How The Bengals Draft Affects Tight End and the Defensive Line

Now that you've had time to digest the team's 2010 Draft Class, we wanted to take the time and reset the team's roster, predicting what this means with the team's roster and how the Bengals will look going into the regular season. We had to split this up into multiple parts for the sheer volume of content. In this post, we examine Tight End and the Defensive Line.

JERMAINE GRESHAM - This is easy. Probably the easiest analysis we've ever done. After going through an entire NFL career with a blocking Tight End, Palmer will be introduced with a new weapon to play with. But that's not all. The mere threat of Gresham will open things up for Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant because when safeties need to cover the Tight End, one receiver is going to benefit in single coverage. And if teams employ cover-two coverage, then Gresham will beat the slugging linebackers trailing him that will open up zones for Jordan Shipley, Andre Caldwell or Dezmon Briscoe. Whether he's the intended receiver, or if he's keeping safeties occupied, Gresham is a big weapon at Tight End. That wasn't too obvious of a statement, was it?

What does this mean for the position? As of now, Gresham is the fourth Tight End on the roster, rounded out with Chase Coffman, Daniel Coats and Darius Hill. The only open question here is whether Reggie Kelly re-signs with the team. If he does, then we project the roster to look like this:

If the Bengals don't re-sign Kelly, then Daniel Coats is the likely third tight end. So let me start off that personal letter to Reggie that we all need to sign: Please Reggie, COME BACK!

Bubble player(s): Depends on Kelly. If he re-signs, it's Daniel Coats. If he doesn't, it's Darius Hill.

CARLOS DUNLAP - With the team drafting Dunlap, it gives Cincinnati another pass rusher with a defensive end that nearly recorded 20 quarterback sacks in his final two seasons at Florida. Not only will the team employ him as a third-down pass rusher, it's believed that adding bulk to his frame will allow the Bengals to move him to defensive tackle for an inside pass rush.

What does this mean for the position? When the Bengals broke camp last year, they took five defensive ends into the regular season. If we assume that number, then we can predict the position to look like this:

 

There are variables here: We're assuming that all of our players escape training camp and preseason injury free. That being said, there's several things that needs to be considered. For one, is this the beginning of the end of Robert Geathers? I think the argument could be made, but I believe he's safe because of his strengths defending the run. That leaves the fifth spot between Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker. Obviously, the guy that's on the weakest bubble is Frostee Rucker, even after signing a two-year deal last month.

Bubble player(s): Frostee Rucker

GENO ATKINS - From the things I've read about Atkins, the Bengals picked up a quality pass rush in passing situations. He's quick, though undersized. If the Bengals place Atkins on their 53-man roster, you have to assume he'll be the fourth and final defensive tackle on the roster.

There are variables here: If the Bengals really want to keep Rucker, then it goes to assume that the Bengals could use Fanene as a defensive tackle if they waive Atkins with the hope that they can sign him to the team's practice squad. I know it sounds ridiculous. But consider this: With Atkins on the practice squad, the Bengals will have a backup plan if one of the defensive linemen gets hurt. Considering that Peko, Odom and Tank Johnson missed time in 2009, this might not be a bad option. However, based on what we've read and based on how he performs through training camp and the preseason, it's probably unlikely that Atkins passes through waivers in the first place.

Bubble player(s): Clinton McDonald, Orien Harris

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