When the Bengals selected Ryan Whalen in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, I imagine that most Bengals fans were thinking the same thing: Who the hell is Ryan Whalen and why would the Bengals select a receiver when there are so many holes in the roster that need to be filled.
After some research, though, it was discovered that Whalen was one of Andrew Luck's favorite targets and he fits the mold of an NFL slot receiver: quick off the line, tough, smart with good hands.
When The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy attended player organized practices, he labeled Whalen as one of the players to watch.
MT 3. Late-round rookie to keep an eye on -- 6th-round WR Ryan Whalen. Nice quickness and playbook is similar to what he had at Stanford.
It's safe to assume that first-round pick A.J. Green will be the No. 1 receiver in 2011. If Chad Ochocinco is let go once the lockout is lifted, that would leave Jerome Simpson as the No. 2 receiver and Jordan Shipley's successful rookie season will keep him as the starting slot receiver.
The biggest question in the receiving corps could be where Andre Caldwell fits in the depth chart and if Ryan Whalen could work his way up the depth chart, and if he does, whose spot will he take?
Reedy recently wrote his Lockout Rosterology, in which he mentioned that if there's a receiver who could struggle, it's likely Caldwell.
When it comes to players to keep an eye on who might struggle to make it, put Andre Caldwell at the top of the list. He showed potential in the last three games but his time here has been a rollercoaster and he wasn't at the recent team workouts.
Caldwell and Simpson teamed up at the end of the 2011 season to give quite a show when both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens were both inactive, and helped the Bengals crush the Chargers' playoff hopes. However, before those games, Caldwell was mostly invisible, only hauling in 10 catches before the final three games of the season.
As for Whalen, not only is he quick with great hands, he is familiar with the West Coast system that Jay Gruden is implementing in Cincinnati.
Whalen, who is coming from a West Coast scheme that uses the same verbiage that Gruden will use, could be a surprise.
If Ochocinco is released, Caldwell won't be taking Green's, Simpson's or Shipley's spot on the depth chart. He'll have to battle with Whalen for a spot in four and five wide formations and as a backup.
If Ochocinco isn't released, Caldwell will have an even harder time getting on the field, regardless of any battle with Whalen or any of the other receivers.
And just in case you think that NFL players don't read the things that are written about them, they do. Caldwell must have written what Reedy wrote and replied via Twitter.