Now that you've had time to digest the team's 2010 Draft Class, we wanted to take the time and reset the team's roster, predicting what this means with the team's roster and how the Bengals will look going into the regular season. We had to split this up into multiple parts for the sheer volume of content. In this post, we examine wide receiver.
Would it be safe to assume that the Cincinnati Bengals attempt to upgrade their wide receiver position through the 2008 NFL Draft is a failure? I hate to say this with only two seasons passing since the Bengals drafted Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson. However, this is what you don't do. You don't sign a free agent wide receiver to a $28 million contract (TWICE!) while drafting two wide receivers in the 2010 NFL Draft if you believed Caldwell and Simpson were designed as your long term plans.
It's important to note that I don't believe Caldwell is finished in Cincinnati. Far from it. However, he didn't help his cause last year. Even though Caldwell made a couple big-time touchdown receptions, the former Gator averaged 8.23 yards-per-reception and in the final nine games of the season, Caldwell never recorded more than 35 yards receiving or five receptions. In fact, his most productive game in his career is a six-reception, 52-yard effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers capped with a game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game.
Caldwell has two game-winning touchdowns when you include his 20-yard game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining against the Ravens. But Caldwell's inconsistency and disappearing act is more of a detriment long-term than the benefits of two game-winning touchdowns (as awesome as they were).
That being said, the Bengals drafted two guys that could literally challenge Caldwell for playing time. Jordan Shipley can take over as the team's slot receiver and Dezmon Briscoe is known as a possession receiver -- two attributes that could cut into Caldwell's participation with this offense.
Furthermore with the Bengals employing a physical philosophy with six offensive linemen formations at times and Jermaine Gresham expected to be a major factor in the passing game, it's unlikely that the Bengals will use a heavy dosage of four wide receiver formations. So Caldwell will have to battle Briscoe and Shipley just to assure himself some playing time.
However, we're talking about players that's expected to make the squad.
What's more difficult to project is if the team takes six wide receivers, who makes the squad? As should be noted, predicting the roster right now is conjecture that has no emphasis on variables, like injuries or certain receiver disappointment. That being said, I believe the first five spots could be filled as of this writing with Chad Ochocinco, Antonio Bryant, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley and Dez Briscoe.
Setting up a major position battle: We have a battle to the death with six wide receivers fighting for the final roster spot: Freddie Brown, Quan Cosby, Chris Davis, Matt Jones, Maurice Purify and Jerome Simpson.
Favorite to win the position battle: I think Quan Cosby has the edge. He's a hard worker and had one of the league's best punt return averages. This spot in the roster will likely be won by someone that can do more catch passes in the passing offense. Thinking special teams here. Reason why Cosby could be knocked off the roster? Jordan Shipley was an excellent return man with Texas scoring two punt return touchdowns in 2009, freeing up the roster for perhaps another position and taking only five receivers into the regular season.
Darkhorse to win the position battle: It's well known that Jerome Simpson is struggling with the playbook. One would think that if you can't understand the playbook after two seasons, then what good are you? However, Simpson could benefit being the team's 2008 second round draft pick. By releasing him, it would be an admission from Lewis and Mike Brown that they missed on Simpson.
The Matt Jones factor: Many believe that Matt Jones could win a spot after being one of the top receivers for the Jacksonville Jaguars for a brief time. Like the other wide receivers battling for a spot, he'll have to prove that he's worth having on the roster from a talent standpoint. He could very well make the roster based on what he does from now until the regular season. However, he'll have an uphill battle and as of right now, I don't see him making the roster because I'm not sure how he'll contribute on special teams -- a big value with the sixth receiver.
Projecting the 53-man roster.
- Chad Ochocinco
- Antonio Bryant
- Andre Caldwell
- Jordan Shipley
- Dez Briscoe
- Quan Cosby