The Bengals have most of their roster intact from last year, but is that a good thing?
Over at ESPN, Sam Monson got together with Pro Football Focus to do an in-depth breakdown of all 32 NFL team's rosters heading into the 2015 season. The Bengals were one team who took a step back from where they were ranked in 2014, though it wasn't a big fall.
Cincinnati went from calling claims to the seventh-best roster in 2014 to the ninth best in 2015, per the list. Monson cited several starters who managed to keep their jobs as reasons why the Bengals' roster is actually worse this year.
2014 Ranking: 7
Top five players: Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Vontaze Burfict, Andrew Whitworth, A.J. Green
Starters who should be upgraded: Domata Peko, A.J. Hawk, Rey Maualuga, Russell Bodine, Mohamed Sanu
Analysis: The Bengals are a team with a lot of talent that is being weighed down by their quarterback. Andy Dalton can be awful one week and fantastic the next, and while the Bengals have done well to surround him with good weaponry and blocking, he hasn't proven he can be a consistently effective NFL quarterback.
Cincinnati's defense has a lot of talent, especially if Atkins gets back to his best after a down 2014. The linebacker corps is a concern, with Burfict coming off a knee injury.
To be fair, some of the guys he mentioned in 'starters who should be upgraded' shouldn't have been there. A.J. Hawk isn't a starter, at least not yet. Maualuga, Lamur and Vincent Rey are the probably Week 1 starters at linebacker, assuming Burfict isn't ready to go.
As for Bodine, he certainly didn't set the world on fire with his blocking as a rookie. However, writing him off after a poor first NFL season is a mistake, especially with how well Paul Alexander has developed lineman during their tenors with the team.
As for Sanu, the Bengals think he's more suited as a slot receiver, a position he rarely played last year as Marvin Jones missed the whole year and A.J. Green missed time as well. He had to share those duties in 2013 with Andrew Hawkins. We'll see how Sanu does there for a full year before we say he needs to go.