This is my way too early 53 man depth chart. This is not so much a be all end all, but is how I view how the roster should shake up at this point. This is my opinion and does not factor in who the coaches will likely keep. Some young guys I like may get in over some guys that will likely make the roster. For example, Rex Burkhead over Peerman. I'll explain that one later, though.
QB: Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson, John Skelton
I can't bring myself to cut Skelton at this point, as he looks really good. Johnson and Dalton are basically locks at this point.
HB: Giovanni Bernard, Benjavarus Green-Ellis, Rex Burkhead
PS: "Boom" Herron
I would personally start Bernard over BJGE at this point. His explosiveness and ability to catch the ball out weighs BJGE's ability to pass block. BJGE will still get carries, especially near the goal line and in short yardage situations. He should also be brought in as a change of pace back. Hopefully Bernard will make the big plays with the added touches that we drafted him for. As for Burkhead, I see him as a more agile, faster future replacement for BJGE. He gets the nod over Peerman for the simple facts that he has looked good and is much younger than Peerman. HBs have short shelf lifes and you should look to get younger all the time.
Utility Player: Orson Charles
Charles gets the position of 'offensive weapon' this season. He can lineup anywhere in the box from TE to H-back to FB. He might not even be bad rushing the ball on a trick play, like Gresham's end-around last week. Putting him on the field makes the DC's job a lot harder, as he won't know if he is dealing with a FB, or a TE. This is why we should keep him. He is a good blocker, has solid hands and moves really well for a big guy.
FullBack: John Conner
Conner is a punishing road grader that can be used in any rushing attack. His impact on running plays can not be understated and if he continues the high play, our running game will be that much more lethal this season.
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Dane Sanzenbacher, Cobi Hamilton, Da'Rick Rodgers (If he is cut)
IR with possibility to return: Andrew Hawkins
PS: Roy Roundtree
The plan going into the season should be to give Sanu the #2 snaps, while rotating him to the slot when the Bengals go three wide. Give Sanzenbacher some snaps at the slot and give Sanu a rest occasionally. See if he can make somethings happen in his limited playing time. Dane has done good things in his two years as an NFL player and I would like to see him expand his role. He is also at least a servicable returner, so Tate can leave. Tate makes too many bad decisions to be here for returning ability and will not progress like some of the younger players will. As the saying goes, "If the dog doesn't bite early, he never will." He has had multiple seasons on the Patriots andBengals to bite and hasn't. There is not reason to think he will bite in a season or two.
Alternate between Cobi Hamilton and Da'Rick Rodgers being active. Da'Rick Rodgers is a 6'4" 215 lbs wide receiver with sub-4.5 speed. The problem with him is that he is extremely raw, but he might turn into something truly special in a few years. According to reports from Bill beat writers, his character concerns are over-blown and he has been clean for more than a year. I check up with the Bills frequently, as a dedicated Dolphins/Bengals fan I check up on division rivals, so I know what Rodgers can and can't do. He has 1st round talent, but is raw when it comes to route running. He has improved since OTAs and that is what you like to see. The Bills have a logjam at the bottom of the roster at WR and may cut him in order to put him on the PS. I hope the Bengals swoop in and grab him.
When Hawkins gets back at week 8, place Cobi Hamilton on the PS as well and let one guy walk. Either give slot snaps to Hawkins, or if Sanzenbacher does well, let Dane surpass him. In the NFL, a injury is the time for a young guy to make his name. Hopefully DS will.
Tight End: Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert
With Charles able to be the 3rd TE, we only need to carry 2 TEs. Not much else to say, as both are locks.
Offensive Tackle: Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Anthony Collins, Reid Fragel
With the upgrades at TE, Roland's ability to play TE is not necessary. With run blocking TEs like Eifert and Charles, Roland's roster spot is better suited for a qualitybackup/developmental player. After six seasons, he is still not an adequate backup.
Offensive Guard: Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler, Tanner Hawkinson, Mike Pollack
Disclaimer: I go from left to right on the OL. I am not proclaiming Boling is better than Zeitler. Hawkinson can play all OL positions and Pollack can play guard and center. Their ability to backup multiple positions gives them the edge in position battles.
Center: Kyle Cook, Trevor Robinson
PS: T.J. Johnson
I have not seen either this pre-season. I have not heard many praising Robinson, so I will assume he did not make the step forward I hoped he would. Robinson plays guard as well and provides good depth at either position.
Well, look at the time. It is 10:00 PM where I am and I need to hit the road before 5:00 AM. I'll finish this later.