Note: We updated our player tracking page adding the un-signed draft picks. Some players may seem out of position, but they should all be there. If there's any errors, email me: joshkirkendall [at] gmail [dot] com.
I'm not one that generally writes previews -- especially this far away from training camp, which lasts several weeks which likely invites some unexpected release of veteran players (uh-hum, Jeremi Johnson, Michael Myers). I find season previews utterly irrelevant (how many hit the nail on the head last season that the team would go through 26 linebackers?). It's not like I have problem with others doing them, in fact, I enjoy them. I just don't like doing them. I may trudge through a game preview, but that's mostly to learn about the other team -- after all, we know what our team can and can not do.
I suppose we could do position-by-position analysis, expectations, etc... but why? It's not like Carson Palmer is in the fight of his life, and it's not like the Bengals running back is up in the air. Both positions have their players. The biggest interest story at both positions could be following the competition for the third QB (Jeff Rowe or Jordan Palmer) or the fourth running back (James Johnson displaces Chris Perry or DeDe Dorsey?). Fine competitions, no doubt. But hardly a revolutionary battle between guys that figure to get significant playing time, save for special teams.
Even our offensive line is set, though there is the interesting question of where Stacy Andrews, the $7.455 million dollar lineman, will start, if he starts. It's not like Ben Utecht is in danger, Reggie Kelly we know will play on the line and the backfield. We believe, though less confident than the other two tight ends, that the Bengals will find a spot for Daniel Coats. We also don't anticipate that the Bengals would draft Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, and Anthony Collins (three of the first five drafted players) to simply cut them. Though the depth chart at wide receiver becomes less clear after the two starters -- that will be fun to watch.
We suspect that the starters and back ups at defensive tackle are set. Defensive ends are nearly as clear: Jonathan Fanene just signed an extension, Robert Geathers is the team's best sacker, Antwan Odom just signed as a free agent. If the Bengals keep four, which has been the trend for the past two seasons, who do they keep, Eric Henderson or Frostee Rucker? Both have noted injuries during their young careers; though we figure Henderson has an upper-hand simply because the team has tried to put him anywhere for playing time.
Generally, the Bengals have 36 players heading into camp on defense -- as opposed to 44 on offense. Most of whom are simply competing for special teams gigs -- outside the nearly none-existent, "who starts?" competitions. We figure Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall get the start, Deltha O'Neal is the primary nickel. Blue "Personal Fouls God" Adams will likely be the team's #4 cornerback and special team's ace. David Jones could make the squad based on his special teams performance -- and the fact the Bengals generally take five cornerbacks; then again, Ethan Kilmer is listed on Bengals.com as a cornerback rather than a safety (which I'm going to assume he will play a majority of the time).
So let's take a shot at projecting the 53-man roster (or, if we're unsure, where battles will take place) -- just because we're really bored right now and I love proving my hypocrisy of complaining about one thing, but doing the exact same thing in the exact same post. Quick note, we're using the ultra-sophisticated system of guessing out of our asses, but we're also going to use the Bengals 2007 final roster as the number of players per position.
OFFENSE (26 players)
Quarterback (3) - Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jeff Rowe or Jordan Palmer)
Running Backs (4) - Rudi Johnson, Chris Perry, Kenny Watson, DeDe Dorsey
Wide Receiver (6) - Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Marcus Maxwell, (Glenn Holt or Antonio Chatman)
Tight End (4) - Ben Utecht, Reggie Kelly, Daniel Coats (like Kelly, could see significant time in the backfield), Brad St. Louis (LS).
Offensive Linemen (9) - Willie Anderson, Levi Jones, Stacy Andrews, Bobby Williams, Andrew Whitworth, Eric Ghiaciuc, Dan Santucci, Scott Kooistra, Anthony Collins.
DEFENSE (25 players)
Defensive Tackle (4) - John Thornton, Domata Peko, Jason Shirley, Pat Sims.
Defensive End (4) - Antwan Odom, Robert Geathers, Jonathan Fanene (Frostee Rucker or Eric Henderson).
Linebackers (7) - Ahmad Brooks, Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers, Rashad Jeanty, Darryl Blackstock, Corey Mays, Brandon Johnson
Cornerbacks (5) - Leon Hall, Johnathan Joseph, Deltha O'Neal, Blue Adams, David Jones.
Safeties (5) - Chinedum Ndukwe, Dexter Jackson, Marvin White, Ethan Kilmer, Herana-Daze Jones.
Specialty (2) - Shayne Graham, Kyle Larson
Each NFL team is allowed up to eight players on the practice squad. Using our ultra-sophisticated system, I'm guessing, though a bit blindly:
Practice Squad (8) - Corey Lynch, James Johnson (if he misses cut), Eric Henderson (if he misses cut), Mario Urrutia, Matt Sherry, Angelo Craig, Dane Uperesa, Kyle Cook.