The Cincinnati Bengals successfully (narrowly) secured Terence Newman on a two-year deal, giving Cincinnati a cornerback roster of Leon Hall, Newman, Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick. Additional vacancies on the roster will feature gladiator-like battles between Shaun Prater and Brandon Ghee (depending on how many they keep) while youngster like Onterio McCalebb, Chris Lewis-Harris, Terrence Brown and Troy Stoudermire intend to break the monotonous discourse of training camp chatter.
How good is Cincinnati's cornerback roster?
It's the worst in the AFC North, according to Matt Williamson with ESPN.com. Breaking down each position and ranking them against the division, the Bengals sport the best wide receivers and tight end, while the defensive line carries the defensive banner.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bengals sport the worst linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks in the division, according to Williamson. The greater question is what is the foundation of ranking cornerbacks?
"By putting Baltimore and Cleveland at the top in this group, I went with star power over depth, as I am a huge fan of Joe Haden and Lardarius Webb, who might just be the Ravens' best defensive player as he returns from injury," Williamson said. "The Bengals have a lot of capable bodies at corner and Leon Hall is a well-above-average starter, while Pittsburgh also features a very solid cornerback in Ike Taylor and some intriguing young talent."
Here we are. Now we're using "star power" as the method for judging an entire position grouping.
Maybe Leon Hall isn't a star that would garner offseason (we're really bored) rankings. But without Hall, who began the season slightly rusty after recovering from a ruptured Achilles, the Bengals were in trouble. Two seconds removed from the six minute mark in the third quarter, Hall intercepted a Nick Foles pass while the Eagles were leading 13-10 during Cincinnati's Week 15 game on Thursday Night Football. Cincinnati scored 24 points after Hall's interception, winning the game by 21 points, leading to a showdown against the Steelers.
Talk about upping-the-ante.
Hall jumped a Heath Miller route in the first quarter, returning Ben Roethlisberger's pass for a touchdown and giving Cincinnati a 7-0 lead.
He also scored Cincinnati's lone touchdown against the Houston Texans during the Wild Card game last season. No other Bengals player scored a touchdown in either game.
How's that for star power?
Shouldn't we worry about the other receivers, or zones? No, we shouldn't. But they shouldn't be disregarded either. Terrence Newman generated an opposing quarterback rating of 79.3, accounting for two of Peyton Manning's 11 interceptions and holding receivers that Manning targeted to just over a 50 percent completion rate. Adam Jones held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 81.9 and a completion percentage of 53.6... for the entire season.
Rankings are rankings and they're always subjected to the author, obviously. Perhaps not the best in the division, they're not the worst either.