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Bengals ranked among NFL's 10 most talented teams

NFL analysts frequently tab the Bengals as the most talented roster in football, yet NFL Network's Bucky Brooks doesn't seem to think the Bengals top the list.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With five consecutive postseason appearances, the Bengals are getting more attention from analysts, for better or for worse. Many, like NFL Network's Bucky Brooks, sing their praise one day and overlook the team the next. Despite calling the Bengals' roster "one of the more talented rosters in the NFL" a month ago, mentioning Cincinnati in the same sentence as Seattle and Arizona, Brooks believes the Bengals have only the seventh-most talented roster in football.

Blue chips: Andy Dalton, QB; A.J. Green, WR; Tyler Eifert, TE; Kevin Zeitler, OG; Andrew Whitworth, OT; Geno Atkins, DT; Carlos Dunlap, DE; Vontaze Burfict, LB; Adam Jones, CB/KR.

Risers: AJ McCarron, QB; Dre Kirkpatrick, CB.

There's no disputing the depth or talent on the Bengals' roster -- after all, the team's made the playoffs in each of the past five seasons. Despite the loss of a few key contributors (Marvin JonesMohamed Sanu and Andre Smith), Cincy should remain among the AFC's elite with a lineup that features a handful of game changers in the trenches and a pair of the NFL's most explosive pass catchers (Green and Eifert). Whitworth and Zeitler solidify an offensive line that provides excellent protection for Dalton in the pocket. Defensively, the Bengals have a solid 1-2 combination on the defensive line (Atkins and Dunlap) that creates opportunities for Burfict on the second level. With Jones growing into a CB1 in the latter stages of his career, the Bengals still have enough firepower to continue their postseason streak.

Brooks hits the nail on the head in identifying blue chip talent, at least in the Bengals' case. It would be hard to say any of the players listed aren't deserving or that any of the players who missed the cut deserve to be considered blue chips. That being said, Brooks completely disregards guys like Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Clint Boling and George Iloka. If McCarron and Kirkpatrick are considered risers, all four of these players deserve some sort of recognition, too.

Then again, Brooks' list is very flawed, so dissent is to be expected. After all, the Giants come in ranked ninth on the list and countless players were overvalued as blue chip talents. Though I can excuse an overvalued player/team or two, ranking the Bengals outside of the top five in roster talent is inexcusable. The Chiefs and Vikings put together impressive campaigns in 2015, but neither team has a roster that can compete with the Bengals' blue chip talent.

For the Vikings, Brooks has Kyle Rudolph, Linval Joseph and Xavier Rhodes listed as blue chip talents. Though all three players (Joseph, in particular) have shown flashes of blue chip talent, I'd argue that none of the three are more talented than the four Bengals I mentioned earlier.

And for the Chiefs, Brooks has Alex Smith, Dontari Poe and Marcus Peters listed as blue chip players. During the end of his tenure with the 49ers, Smith was a blue chip talent, but today, he's the league's most mediocre quarterback. Poe was once a dominant nose tackle, but his play has regressed as of recently, which is perhaps why the Chiefs selected Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones in the second round of the 2016 Draft. Finally, there's Marcus Peters. NFL analysts praise Peters' eight interceptions in 2015, but they also fail to mention that he was the most targeted corner in history since Pro Football Focus started tracking corner targets as a stat. Per Pro Football Focus, Peters was targeted 25 more times than the Bengals' Dre Kirkpatrick, the NFL's second-most targeted corner, and he gave up a 55-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Tate along with seven others throughout the season.

Ultimately, comparing individual players on the list is just nitpicking. However, calling the Bengals one of the best rosters in football one month and ranking them at seventh on a list of the NFL's most talented rosters the next is a bit hypocritical. I'd argue the Bengals shouldn't be left out of the top five teams in overall roster talent, regardless of which teams are ranked ahead of Cincinnati. Furthermore, Brooks ranked the Giants and Cowboys ahead of the Patriots and Packers in terms of overall roster talent. The Patriots have at least 10 players I would consider blue chips, and the Packers have one of the deepest rosters in football. There's something seriously wrong with this list, and it isn't just the disrespect toward the Bengals.