To make things a bit clearer, I added in a rating out of 10 for each of the rookies. Here's a rough definition for each of them. I'm also changing the numbers for previous weeks in order to fit these definitions.
0-2: Not on the roster, or inactive, or active but not seeing the field at all
3: Active but mostly on special teams; not expected to be a backup contributor
4: Active but mostly on special teams; supposedly a backup contributor on offense or defense but hardly received any opportunities for the week, and there is no forecast that he will have them in the near future
5: Backup contributor or a fringe starter on offense or defense and playing at about an average or below-average level, or hardly received opportunities for the week but it is very obvious that he will have them in the near future
6: Backup contributor or a fringe starter on offense or defense and playing decently, or a full-time starter on offense or defense and playing at about an average or below-average level
7-10: Backup contributor or a fringe starter on offense or defense and playing outstandingly well, or a full-time starter on offense or defense and playing decently well to outstandingly well
Of course, anyone in the 5-10 range might be contributing on special teams too. Take these numerical grades with a grain of salt; I realize that they are somewhat arbitrary.
So... Who's gettin me a Bday gift?!!!?
— Darqueze Dennard (@DDennard21) October 2, 2014
One good thing in this game for #Bengals? Their punt coverage. Solid stop by Darqueze Dennard just now.
— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) October 6, 2014
Dennard had one very nice tackle on special teams, but received zero snaps on defense. I was surprised that Dennard did not get on the field as a CB at all, considering how the Bengals CB's were getting burned repeatedly - especially in the slot, a position that Dennard has done well at so far in his limited opportunities.
At certain points in the game, it wouldn't have hurt to put Dennard in. His stock takes a mild hit - it's not a knock on him as a prospect, but rather on his playing time and what the coaches think of him. His birthday is this week, and I think the coaches should get him a great gift to make up for what happened.
Stock: DOWN to 4/10
(Previous weeks - Week 1: 2/10, Week 2: 5/10, Week 3: 6/10)
Only two carries for Jeremy Hill, but he chipped in with 68 yards on three catches.
— John Paulsen (@4for4_John) October 6, 2014
This week was very disappointing for Jeremy Hill. He contributed on special teams, but barely saw the field on offense. I'm surprised how little Hue Jackson used Hill for a game in which it seemed to make a lot of sense to lean on him. The defense's poor performance made it virtually impossible for the offense to overcome, but I think the score would have been closer had Hill been given more opportunities.
Looking back at the draft, Jeremy Hill was absolutely worth a second-round pick when considering his talent and upside. In training camp, preseason, and in his regular-season opportunities, he has looked nothing short of the second coming of Corey Dillon. The question wasn't whether he is worth a high pick as a prospect himself (he surely is), the question was how much would he be used considering the Bengals already had Gio Bernard (and at the time, BenJarvus Green-Ellis as well).
There were times in Sunday's game when it would have made a lot more sense to use Hill instead of Bernard, such as for running between-the-tackles in the red zone. Bernard ran fairly well in other situations, but not in those. We're seeing Bernard as the clear feature-back getting the lion's share of playing time regardless of situation, and Hill being relegated to the bench other than to occasionally give Bernard a breather.
It's not a 1-2 punch, rather a starter and a backup. For similar reasons to Dennard, Hill takes a fairly big hit here. Again, it's the coaches' fault, not his own. He seems to be a little above the 4 category (I'm just being optimistic that Hue comes to his senses about Hill's playing time, otherwise he should be at 4), but I don't think I can put him at 5 yet.
Stock: DOWN to 4.5/10
(Previous weeks - 5/10, 8/10, 7/10)
#Bengals inactives: Rex Burkhead, Chris Lewis-Harris, Vontaze Burfict, Kevin Zeitler, Marvin Jones, Will Clarke, Brandon Thompson.
— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) October 5, 2014
Clarke was inactive, which doesn't reflect well on him considering the D-line has been lacking for depth. Unlike other defensive linemen like Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt, Clarke doesn't play special teams. Considering Clarke registered a -8.0 PFF aggregate grade in preseason, worst among 120 (yes, one hundred and twenty) 4-3 defensive ends in the league, which is exacerbated by the fact that he was only a part-time player without many snaps, he is clearly a long-term raw project who is not ready.
Stock: DOWN to 0/10
(Previous weeks - 0/10, 0/10, 1/10)
Matchup of the Game: Vince looms: Rookie center Russell Bodine is impressing with a take-charge approach.… http://t.co/sO3RfE3QfY
— NFL Breaking News (@NFLBNN) October 2, 2014
I'm pleased by how Bodine played last Sunday. He was able to hold his own against Patriots NT Vince Wilfork. He seemed to play closer to the way he did against the Titans than the way he did against the Ravens and Falcons, two games in which he was functional but consistently beaten at the line of scrimmage.
He seems to be cerebral, frequently directing the O-linemen to their blocking assignments. The major struggles of training camp and preseason (super-high snaps, getting pancaked half a dozen times or more per game) seem to be entirely behind him. The one sack given up by the Bengals O-line was entirely Clint Boling's fault, not Bodine's.
With Mike Pollak at G and Trevor Robinson on the Chargers, Bodine is clearly the man at C for this season and probably for a long while. His stock was already fairly high after the Titans game, so it stays there for now.
Stock: LEVEL at 8/10
(Previous weeks - 6/10, 6/10, 8/10)
Everybody said we couldn't do it in 2011 & 2012 after 1 loss But y'all know what happen those two times at the end of that year HUH? Lol #2x
— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) October 4, 2014
Bengals rookie QB A.J. McCarron looking good in pregame warmups http://t.co/GubKE6MkXc
— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) October 6, 2014
McCarron was #pissedoffforgreatness after watching his 'Bama boys get upset in Oxford. He channeled that into throwing very well in pregame warmups. He looked decent during training camp, too (throwing to the injured receivers on the sideline). His stock will go up a little more if he is placed on the 53-man roster.
Stock: UP to 1/10
Previous weeks - 0/10, 0/10, 0/10)
Never been to Boston, This Is New!!
— Marquis Flowers (@MrHitThat_2) October 4, 2014
Regardless of anyone's given political preferences, there's a lot about Boston that most people would enjoy - its fall beauty, its numerous American Revolution historical sites, and most of all its cuisine.
Anyway, Flowers got a little bit of playing time at WILL, with Vontaze Burfict out, Vinny Rey not doing well, and Sean Porter injured. With Porter possibly done for the year, it looks like Flowers has moved up to third-string WILL. He's still mostly on special teams, though, and isn't expected to get any significant playing time from scrimmage.
Speaking of Porter, I just find his situation tragic. You have to feel for the poor guy. He has enough talent and upside for the coaches to have kept him on the roster, but he missed all of last year due to a torn shoulder labrum.
Then, he missed nearly all of training camp due to a knee injury. He played in two preseason games, but a hamstring injury nearly derailed his chances for a roster spot. And during his very first real NFL snap, on kickoff coverage, he tore his ACL without any contact?
And the Pats took a knee in the end zone?!
Stock: LEVEL at 3/10
(Previous weeks - 3/10, 3/10, 3/10)
Bengals WR snap count: Mohamed Sanu 55, AJ Green 50, James Wright 22, Brandon Tate 16, Dane Sanzenbacher 12
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 6, 2014
Whenever the Bengals used 3-WR sets in the game, it was usually Green, Sanu...and then Wright. He'll be behind Marvin Jones whenever Jones comes back, but at this point Wright is a very realistic contender for the #4 WR spot ahead of Tate and Sanzenbacher, who both really hurt their causes with lost fumbles (and Wright was already receiving more snaps than each of them, before they had their second-half fumbles).
Wright wasn't officially targeted. He mainly served as a blocking WR, something that he excelled at while playing for LSU. Most of his snaps were on the outside, but a few were in the slot. He also contributed on special teams coverage. He might continue to get decent playing time at WR, but it isn't entirely clear, so I'll say he's above 4 but I can't put him at 5 either. For different reasons, he gets the same grade as Jeremy Hill.
Stock: UP to 4.5/10
(Previous weeks - 2/10, 3/10, 3/10)
Hewitt got featured in a Grantland article last week, which is pretty cool.
With Wright getting plenty of opportunities at WR (and thus the Bengals using plenty of 3-WR-or-more sets), Hewitt received only 10 snaps on offense despite being named as a starter. That's a huge drop in playing time, considering that he had 55 snaps in the previous two games combined. Gradually, he has played more TE and less FB, with the exception of motioning into the backfield at times.
Therefore, I'm dropping Hewitt to the same grade as Wright. In the near future, depending on their playing times, their stocks will be inversely proportional to each other. If the Bengals continue to use 3-WR sets often, then Wright's stock will probably go up (depending on whether Marvin Jones gets back) and Hewitt's stock may go down.
If the Bengals revert back to using 2-TE or 1-TE/1-FB sets often, then Hewitt's stock will probably go back up and Wright's will probably go down. Most likely, one of them will be getting plenty of snaps in the near future, but I can't say for sure which one. They're both good blockers - it just depends what position the Bengals want.
Very early on, you can see that I had Hewitt in the 5 or 6 range because his stock shot way up with Tyler Eifert and Alex Smith out, plus he was playing decently. But since the Bengals have recently abstained from using a FB or second TE for the most part, I have to drop him a little.
Stock: DOWN to 4.5/10
(Previous weeks - 5/10, 6/10, 6/10)