Now that the Bengals have let Andrew Hawkins leave, playing time at wide receiver figures to open up in 2014 for anyone who can step up and prove their worth to James Urban. The current WRs coach of the Bengals has seen plenty of talented pass-catchers in his time, but what he likes about his current group is their ability to play multiple spots.
"We’re not numbering them. With Hue coming in, everyone’s got a clean slate," Urban says, via Bengals.com. "No preconceived notions on what they’ve done or haven’t done. We’ll look at everybody outside; we’ll look at everybody inside.
"Some of that will be determined by the packages. Does this guy do the best for that package? We’ve talked about that. We’ll see how it goes. As long as we have the personnel to do it. We have some flexibility. We’re not type casting anybody at this point."
One player who figures to get a big bump in playing time is Mohamed Sanu, who took a step backwards in 2013, but Urban placed the blame on himself for overworking the second-year WR:
"He does so many things well. I spread him a little thin," Urban says. "He’s as frustrated as anybody about those plays. But we know what he does well and you’ll love him when he’s that big, physical guy making that tough catch.
"He’s a fan favorite and a favorite in the locker room. Good guy, smart guy. You’ll love him when he’s doing the things he does so well."
As for Cobi Hamilton, who spent the entire year on the practice squad: Urban is very high on him going into his second NFL season:
"I have high hopes for him. He has high hopes for himself. He just has to do it," Urban says. "He's got great size, great range. He's a bit of a long strider, but once he gets going he can run, he runs fine. I think he had an adjustment getting into great NFL shape and finding a comfort level like many rookies do and he started to make a lot of plays.
"He worked his tail off. He stayed out with me after practice, he started seeing things and it started to click for him."
The starting slot-receiver job is Sanu's to lose, but it sounds like Hamilton is ready to push him for playing time. The good thing is that those two should be able to play the X, Z or slot in order to get more playing time.
Or maybe, someone else not currently on the roster could come in and not only challenge for playing time, but even a roster spot. In that same article, Geoff Hobson floats the idea of the Bengals taking a WR at No. 24 if one is on the board that can't be passed on.
He mentions USC's Marqise Lee and LSU's Odell Beckham. While those are good WRs, this is one of the deepest WR draft classes in recent memory. It's not like the Bengals haven't had great success draft WRs in the latter rounds.
Look no further than Chad Johnson (2nd), Chris Henry (3rd), Marvin Jones (5th) and Houshmandzadeh (7th) are just a few examples of late-rounders who've gone on to have productive NFL career.