Editor's Note: Joe will be breaking down different Bengals players in scouting reports, judging their strengths, weaknesses and giving his overall impression, starting with guys who could possibly be leaving the team when the lockout ends and free agency begins. Keep an eye out for more scouting reports that will be coming soon.
Strengths: Benson can be your bell cow running backs. He's one of the few running backs in the league that can carry the ball 25 plus times per game. He's more than just a powerful runner, too. Benson can burst through a hole and he frequently uses a jump cut to make defenders miss. His agility and acceleration is very underrated by most. He can be elusive in the open field because the defender has to be conscience of Benson's power. Benson's best attributes are his field of vision (he almost always hits the right hole at the right time) and his ability to fall forward on every single play. Even if a defender gets a good hit on him or stands Benson up, he always finds a way to fall forward for that extra yard. He has also become a good pass blocker.
Weaknesses: Obviously Benson doesn't have game breaking speed. He offers almost nothing as a pass catcher. This could be due to both scheme and ability, though. Benson had extreme fumbling issues for the first time in his career in 2010. He seems okay with taking the yards available to him. If he can get three yards, he'll take it and go on to the next play. At times, I would like to see him grind for every possible inch. Benson also gets tripped up far too many times. I would be he's been tackled by his ankles and feet more than any running back in the league. I'm sure it's as frustrating for him as it is for fans.
Overall Impression: Contrary to his reputation outside of Cincinnati, Cedric Benson is the ultimate pro. He works very hard and takes his profession seriously. He's always been in great shape and goes hard every play. He really can be an influential player in the locker room and a leader. That being said, Benson, as a whole, is just an above average player. Running backs are everywhere in today's NFL. If you average 3.5 yards per carry and fumble seven times in a season, you can be easily replaced. That was bad Cedric Benson. We've seen good Cedric Benson and that's the player we all want. Because of this uncertainty, I wouldn't break the bank to re-sign him. I would expect a deal in the 3-4 year $4-5 million a year range for Benson.