You're given the task of coming up with the best players at each position this year, while shuffling the profiles of 1,696 players on 32 NFL rosters. While doing that, and considering you're a Bengals fan, how many mentions do Bengals players deserve? You could go with the traditional A.J. Green, Vontaze Burfict and Geno Atkins selections... however, injuries (and recovery from injury) continue to push this season into irrelevancy for all three.
Does Andy Dalton deserve to be mentioned in the same breathe as Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or even Ben Roethlisberger? No. He does not. Every time that DeMarco Murray reaches the 100-yard plateau, he's extending an active record that may take generations to break... plus he has 288 yards more than the running back with the second-most yards (Arian Foster). Both have seven touchdowns. Giovani Bernard, who has five touchdowns rushing, is more than 600 yards behind Murray. So, no.
Mohamed Sanu has done well this year, but barely deserves a mention with the seasons that Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, and even Randall Cobb (nine touchdowns!) are having. Tight end? Please.
Andrew Whitworth, who ranks as the third-best left tackle behind Joe Thomas and Brandon Albert, could get a nod. Andre Smith?
Kevin Zeitler hasn't played much this season -- and when he has, he's listed as the 10th-best right guard (which is actually pretty amazing considering that Pro Football Focus scores are accumulations, not averages). Clint Boling is arguably one of the problems with this team's running game, as is the performance of rookie center Russell Bodine.
See what I'm saying? There's no one.
The only impressive thing that the linebackers have done this year is not play, though Emmanuel Lamur has had his moments on the positive side. Wallace Gilberry is arguably Cincinnati's best front-seven player this year and Carlos Dunlap, while a good pass rusher, has been a wreck against the run. While they are both having decent seasons and Dunlap's performances are on the rise, neither are close to the production of Cameron Wake or J.J. Watt.
We could make an argument for George Iloka having a mention... opposing receivers catch less than 50 percent against Iloka, who has recorded two interceptions, three pass defenses and an opposing quarterback rating of 29.5. Pete Prisco with CBS Sports lists Eric Weddle and Charles Woodson as his All-Pro choices at safety -- both are having fine seasons and Iloka deals with not having much name-recognition.
Adam Jones as a cornerback? Best cornerback on the team... but the league?
Adam Jones as a kick returner? Abso-fuggin-lutely.
Jones has returned six kickoffs and averaged 41.7 yards per return. Of players with more than one punt return, Jones is at the top with a 16.5 yard/return average. In fact, we'd fully support the team moving Jones off the defense, giving Darqueze Dennard playing time and giving Cincinnati their best returner for every kick. On the other hand, Jones is the best performing cornerback on this roster right now. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Yet, through all of this, the streaky Bengals are 4-2-1 and leaders of the AFC North. Team... it's all about the team.
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