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Bengals 53-Man Roster Prediction and Analysis

With five days of camp in the books, here is the latest 53-man roster projection and analysis.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are now well into training camp after five solid days of practice. Still, it's too early to get a firm grasp on every player who may be on the 53-man roster if cutdowns were today.

Like last year, the Bengals will have many tough decisions to make as the final roster cuts are made. That said, here is my updated 53-man roster projection:

Quarterbacks (3)

Andy Dalton

Jason Campbell

A.J. McCarron

Analysis: Three QBs will be on the roster this year. Matt Scott might make it onto the practice squad, but he needs to have a good showing during camp and the preseason just to get that. McCarron will sit and develop.

Potential Surprise: None

Running Backs (4)

Giovani Bernard

Jeremy Hill

Cedric Peerman

Rex Burkhead

Analysis: The Bengals cut or trade BenJarvus Green-Ellis prior to the second wave of cuts, giving him time to get acclimated with a team during their final preseason week.

As for James Wilder, despite a great showing in the preseason, the Bengals aren't ready to give him Burkhead's spot on the roster. They waive him in hopes of getting him onto the practice squad, but another team claims him.

Potential Surprise: Peerman

Tight Ends (4) and Fullback (0)

Jermaine Gresham

Tyler Eifert

Alex Smith

Orson Charles

Analysis: The Bengals want to use a true fullback, but Nikita Whitock isn't ready quite yet. He gets placed on the practice squad, while the Bengals go with the same four TEs they had last year.

Potential Surprise: Whitlock manages to make the roster, costing either Smith or Charles their jobs.

Wide Receivers (7)

A.J. Green

Marvin Jones

Mohamed Sanu

Brandon Tate

Dane Sanzenbacher

James Wright

Cobi Hamilton

Analysis: Cobi Hamilton had a good preseason last year, and by all indications, so far he's doing well in camp. He earns a spot on the roster as an added receiving target, whereas James Wright makes it strictly on his special teams impact.

Brandon Tate also retains his spot with a good showing in camp and in the preseason, though his role remains as the primary kickoff returner.

Potential Surprise: Tate is cut.

Offensive Line (8)

Mike Pollak (C/G)

Russell Bodine (C)

Kevin Zeitler (G)

Clint Boling (G)

Marshall Newhouse (G/T)

Andrew Whitworth (T/G)

Andre Smith (T)

Tanner Hawkinson (G/T)

Analysis: Versatility allows the Bengals to go with just 8 lineman and still have plenty of depth at every position. None of the guys who make it are really a surprise.

Potential Surprise: Undrafted free agent guard Trey Hopkins manages to make the roster. He played great in OTAs with Pollak and Boling out, but now, he'll have to keep that up playing full speed with the pads on. Also, watch out for Will Svitek, a veteran tackle the team signed after the draft.

Defensive Tackles (4)

Geno Atkins

Domata Peko

Devon Still

Brandon Thompson

Analysis: Preferably, the Bengals would like to keep 5 DTs with Geno coming off a torn ACL, but there's no one worthy of a roster spot, leaving the Bengals with just four DTs.

Potential Surprise: LaKendrick Ross makes the roster. Even he's a long shot, but the 6'5, 360-pound mammoth offers a lot of size in the middle to use on short-yardage and goal-line situations. Marvin Lewis has spent extra time working with Ross, almost as if he sees a potential 53-man player in him.

Defensive Ends (5)

Carlos Dunlap

Wallace Gilberry

Margus Hunt

Robert Geathers

Will Clarke

Analysis: Dunlap and Hunt open the year as the starters with Gilberry and Geathers as their primary backups. Clarke is a work in progress. Dontay Moch just barely misses out on making the roster, as the Bengals like Geathers more for the veteran leadership he provides.

And, because both he and Hunt will get moved to DT at times, that makes it easier to keep just four DTs, even though Atkins is coming off a torn ACL.

Potential Surprise: Geathers is cut and either Moch or Sam Montgomery make the roster.

Linebackers (5)

Vontaze Burfict

Emmanuel Lamur

Rey Maualuga

Vincent Rey

Jayson DiManche

Analysis: This is the hardest position to project. Jayson DiManche, Sean Porter and Marquise Flowers battle for the fifth and final spot. Flowers gets waived during final cuts and is signed to the practice squad. Having Taylor Mays to play both S and LB helps the Bengals keep just 5 true backers.

Potential Surprise: Flowers or Porter cracks the roster, beating out DiManche for his spot.

Cornerback (5)

Leon Hall

Terence Newman

Adam Jones

Dre Kirkpatrick

Darqueze Dennard

Analysis: The top 5 are locked in. All that's left is to figure out if LaVelle Westbrooks, Chris Lewis-Harris or Victor Hampton are worthy of a sixth spot.

Ultimately, Hampton is waived and signed to the practice squad along with Westbrooks. Because Taylor Mays and Danieal Manning can ply CB in a pinch, the Bengals feel ok going with just five CBs.

Potential Surprise: Onterio McCalebb makes the roster because of his return ability. Hampton makes it based on his raw talent and potential to become a solid 4th or 5th CB.

Safety (5)

Reggie Nelson

George Iloka

Shawn Williams

Danieal Manning

Taylor Mays

Analysis: Nelson and Iloka are the starters with Manning and Williams being the two primary backups. Mays gets seldom snaps here and at LB.

Potential Surprise: Undrafted free agent Isiah Lewis makes the roster and costs Mays or Manning their spot.

Special Teams (3)

Mike Nugent

Kevin Huber

Clark Harris

Analysis: The Bengals special teams trio was solid last year, but Nugent is in a battle with Quinn Sharp for the kicking duties. Ultimately, I see Nugent retaining his role.

Potential Surprise: Sharp makes the roster and gives the Bengals a dual punter/kicker.