The typical key words and phrases we've been hearing with wide receiver Ryan Whalen includes (but is not limited to), tough, attention to detail, physical and good size. Bengals wide receivers coach, James Urban, said of the second of two drafted receivers, "He’s a tough, physical player with good size. He runs good routes and blocks well. He plays the game the way you want it played. This kid is a winner. He’s the kind of kid you can build a winning organization around. He’s the kind of guy you want in your meeting room and on your team."
When asked if Whalen could be a slot receivers, Urban didn't think he has the attributes that Jordan Shipley has, but is more than capable of playing the position.
"I think he can play both. They moved him around and we'll certainly look at him for both positions. I think he has the ability to do both. He's six foot one and 205 pounds. I think he has a chance to do both. Given his makeup and the way he plays the game, we'll see if he can play on special teams for Coach Darrin Simmons."
But the question is, where does he fit in?
Adding A.J. Green and Whalen to the team's roster, the count for receivers signed through 2011 is eight -- since he's technically signed through 2011, we have to include Chad Ochocinco. Based on assumptions, Chad will likely be released leaving Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Shipley and Green as your primary core of receivers.
That leaves two open spots for Quan Cosby, Shay Hodge and Whalen. We can also assume that the Bengals will sign a couple of undrafted wide receivers when the new league year begins, forcing competition with a strong emphasis of winning a job through special teams, as Urban hinted. Since Cosby is the team's primary punt returner, he has a slight advantage. A more radical scenario could be that Andre Caldwell may find himself competing against Whalen also, depending how Training Camp and preseason go.
It also wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals place Whalen on the practice squad this year. With Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell heading into the final year under contract, the Bengals may want to see what they can do for a full season. If the end of 2010 isn't replicated in some form in 2011 (and we don't mean statistics), the Bengals will have options for 2012 if neither receiver returns.