PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass in the first half in front of Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
We're taking a brief look at every position this weekend, breaking down the roster at this point in the offseason.
Position Report: Wide Receiver
Roster (7): A.J. Green, Jordan Shipley, Armon Binns, Ryan Whalen, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Vidal Hazelton
What can you say about A.J. Green that doesn't sound like an over-emphasized man-crush? Jordan Shipley is returning from a ligament injury that prematurely ended his season last year. Ryan Whalen and Andrew Hawkins stepped in as slot receivers; Whalen played the more traditional role while Hawkins was more gadget-friendly. Brandon Tate is the team's kick returner, but his job shouldn't be considered secure.
It all comes down to Armon Binns. If head coach Marvin Lewis hadn't mentioned his coaching staff begging to give Binns a shot last year on two separate occasions, we might dismiss Binns as an option entirely. Now we're blindly following the ideal of Binns becoming the team's No. 2 receiver, even if the team selects a wide receiver in the first round (more on that below).
Draft Projection: Though it wouldn't be entirely unexpected if the Cincinnati Bengals selected a wide receiver in the first round, it would seem rather disappointing if guys like Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright are off the board once Cincinnati is on the clock -- though drafting a wide receiver in the first-round isn't necessarily a must.
Generally speaking it takes time for wide receivers to adjust to the NFL game, unlike the aberration of a manly beast like A.J. Green. Calvin Johnson only started 10 games his rookie season, posting 48 receptions. Larry Fitzgerald started all 16 games during his rookie season, but only generated 58 receptions. Andre Johnson caught 66 passes during his rookie campaign in 2003. And those are the best wide receivers in the league, not number twos on their respective team. It will take time for a rookie to adjust, allowing Binns, who is already comfortable with the system, knowledgeable about the terminology, to step into a starting role. If we are to believe Marvin, that is.
However we don't expect draft weekend to come and go without at least one receiver taken.