Presenting our top 20 players of 2012. Two notes to kick off our journey (in which we'll undoubtedly be wrong on every selection). We excluded rookies from our list this year because it didn't make sense. Along without having played a down in the NFL, rookies can't be categorically listed based on promise without a sense of history and we refuse to list them simply because they were first or second round draft picks. So we omitted them entirely. Also our own Joe Goodberry will be doing a power rankings periodically throughout the season adjusting our top 20 list.
We start our annual top 20 list with one of Cincinnati's newest free agents, offensive guard Travelle Wharton. After Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn left for free agency and Bobbie Williams rehabilitating a fractured ankle, the Bengals found themselves desperately needing to rebuild their offensive guard positions. Signing a three-year deal worth $10 million early during free agency, Wharton is projected as the team's starting left guard.
Historically stronger as a pass blocker, Wharton's lone season with Cam Newton at quarterback showed some duress, thanks to his quarterback's escapability behind the pocket which generally affects most offensive linemen. However Wharton was graded as one of the better run blocking offensive guards in the second half of the season last year, scoring a positive blocking score of 7.4 in the final eight games. He also only allowed one sack in the final 14 regular season games last season.