With Andrew Hawkins now with the Cleveland Browns, there will about 500 snaps to replace at wide receiver. Though he only played in 124 snaps in 2013 due to missing 8 games because of ankle injury, Hawkins did account for 21 snaps per game over the final 5 games once he was healthy.
Essentially, he was in between a No. 3 and 4 WR, so replacing him won't be as easy as most deem it to be. Yes, Mohamed Sanu is a young, promising prospect, but after spending his college days as a Wildcat QB and WR, he's still learning the position and is very raw in his route-running still. That's evidenced by his -3.7 receiving rating from Pro Football Focus, the worst of any Bengals pass-catcher.
So long as he keeps working hard, he'll eventually develop into a solid No. 3, but until then, the Bengals need someone else they can count on to give them quality snaps from the slot.
Could Dane Sanzenbacher give them that?
He's certainly ready to now that Hawkins is gone. Having just signed his restricted free agent tender for 1.2 million, Sanzenbacher certainly is getting paid like a player expected to contributor to a playoff contender.
"Whenever you got guys at the same position as you that gets opportunity somewhere else that will open it up," Sanzenbacher said after signing his tender. "Obviously, we got a deep room and a bunch of guys that are going to be making an impact this year. So, I'm excited to still be a part of it. I'm happy for Hawk's opportunity in Cleveland, obviously it's not for us, but good for him. He's worked hard for that."
Hue Jackson also praised sixth-round receiver Cobi Hamilton and how he improved significantly as the year went on while on the practice squad:
"Cobi Hamilton made spectacular plays in practice and I watched him improve every week," said Jackson. "We have a very talented wide receiver group but I don’t think you can ever have too much talent. It’s going to be fun to see where he fits with the A.J. Green’s, and the Marvin Jones’s, and the Mo Sanu’s and the rest of the group that we have there, because he’s a big physical player."
There is also Brandon Tate and Ryan Whalen, but three years on the roster and they still have yet to make any kind of positive impact that warrants them being counted on to o so going forward.