If the Bengals have depth at any postion, it's the cornerback spot. You've got six former first rounders, a 2010 third rounder, and a 2012 fifth rounder all vying for five or six spots.
And while it's easy to cross off the non-first rounders, they sure are making it a harder decision than people thought.
Ghee, in particular, has made a splash during this offseason, impressing coaches and making big plays. Most fans have forgotten about the young cornerback from Wake Forest, but Ghee's competitiveness isn't going away. In fact, he wants to start, according to Bengals.com's Dan Hoard.
"I’m not just competing for a spot – I’m trying to play," said Ghee. "I’m trying to earn a starting position on this team."
Ghee's hustle and heart have impressed several Bengals wide receivers, even including A.J. Green:
"Ghee is out there competing every day and he’s one of the best corners that we have here," said Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green. "I feel like this year is going to be his year. I feel like he’s healthier and he’s playing fast."
"Obviously if you’re here, you have the talent to play in the NFL," said wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. "As you get more comfortable, you get more confidence and I think that’s what they’re seeing in Brandon Ghee. That’s part of the maturation of an NFL football player. He’s had an incredible off-season. He looks great and hopefully he can continue to build on that momentum."
While other cornerbacks have been sidelined with injuries in this offseason, Ghee has been the one to step up. Ironically, injuries have been the prime reason that Ghee hasn't stepped up thus far. He was dealing with a concussion issue in his rookie year, and then a hamstring issue early in 2011 kept him from even making the team's roster in final cuts. Ghee claimed that being cut was a wake up call for him, and as he worked hard on the team's practice squad, coaches noticed a new drive and hustle in Ghee that they hadn't seen before. That impression has carried over into the 2012 offseason, with both Marvin Lewis and Defensive Backs Coach Mark Carrier on board.
"He’s been in that redshirt mode unfortunately because of injuries," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "He obviously has had a good offseason training before he came back to be with us, and he’s really had an outstanding nine practices."
"The reason why he’s here is we see the potential," said defensive backs coach Mark Carrier. "Now – especially going into your third year which is kind of the year where you sink or swim – this is his chance to blossom."
Ghee still has an uphill battle to make the team over the six former first rounders, all of which have good reason to make the team as well. But, should any of these six slip up in training camp, or even make a transition to safety, Ghee might be the next man up.