It was a tough call going through the top-10 Bengals breakout players of 2015, but it has finally concluded. Still, there are some good players who were bypassed and we wanted to give them a nod in anticipation of their 2015 performances.
Ryan Hewitt: The guy was crushing people last season and is one of the unsung heroes of this team. A perceived increased emphasis on the running game could bring Hewitt more into the limelight as a contributor. Unfortunately, his position doesn't merit much fanfare and he has minimal impact in personal statistics, making him miss this year's list.
C.J. Uzomah: Both "Tyler Twins", Efiert and Kroft, made the top 10 list. However Uzomah, viewed by some as a project, turned heads with his ability to catch the football in minicamps. He'll have a hard time getting on the field behind both Tylers, but could be a factor in red zone and/or jumbo packages. We might find that Uzomah has a Joseph Fauria-type of effect in that he'll have minimal catches, but might make the most of them with big plays.
Marcus Hardison: Is he a tackle or an end? At Arizona State, Hardison played around 300 pounds as a rushing 3-4 end. The impact? 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The Bengals will be trying him as a rushing tackle and he could have an impact as a rotational guy. Anything to help that ailing pass rush from last year, right?
Margus Hunt: We put him high on the list last year, but he greatly disappointed. Some think he'll be on the roster bubble this year, but if he makes it and stays healthy, he could contribute with that employed defensive line rotation as well.
Brandon Ghee: Can he make it? Will he be that fifth corner and contribute on special teams and certain dime packages. Over the years with the Bengals he always seemed to have looked good in practices, but as the season neared he just wasn't healthy. He's also dabbled with safety when playing with other clubs, so versatility could help him in Cincinnati.
Josh Shaw: Another versatile defensive back who the coaches love for this system. As Geoff Hobson told us on Inside the Jungle, Shaw will likely start as a gunner on special teams and be a spot defensive player. He's got great size and speed, but his arrow might really point up starting in 2016.
Giovani Bernard: The third-year back has already "broken out" in some respects, but he'll be taking a back seat a bit to Jeremy Hill. Still, is this the year that Bernard finally becomes a Darren Sproles-like player? Will he return kicks here and there for a spark, as he did at times in college?
Emmanuel Lamur: He made the list last year and had his ups and downs. He might be seeing a decrease in playing time with A.J. Hawk and P.J. Dawson on board, but he'll still be out there in nickel packages. He remains one of the teams best coverage linebackers on the roster.
Troy Hill: Does the little undrafted corner from Oregon beat out tested veterans to make the final 53? Hobson also mentioned the coaches like this kid's tenacity, but size and an off-field issue caused him to go undrafted. Many believe he can help at the NFL level as a back-end positional roster guy.
Jake Fisher: He won't start, but the plan might be to have him out on the field often as an extra lineman in jumbo packages. Fisher will also be the backup guard, so any potential injuries to Kevin Zeitler or Clint Boling (knock on wood) would pave the way for him to take on a starting role.