No-brainers here. Keith Wenning, who backed up McCarron in Week 17 and the Wild Card game, lands on the practice squad.
Again, the running back position is pretty much set. With Bernard, Peerman and Burkhead all set to hit free agency, I'd imagine the Bengals will keep two running backs on the practice squad. If it were up to me, Bronson Hill and Tra Carson would be those two guys.
Wide receiver is tricky. 2016 may be the year I've been most confident of Brandon Tate making the roster, and this year, it's more due to his knowledge of the receiving playbook than his duties as a return man. The Bengals don't really know what they have behind Green, LaFell, Boyd and Tate. I'd imagine Core and Alford will make the roster, as James Wright seems the easiest guy to stash on the practice squad after his 2015 PCL tear. I'm far from confident this will be how the receiver position will shake out; I think of Core, Alford and Wright, the Bengals will keep two and stash one on the practice squad. Jake Kumerow could also make the practice squad if he showed signs of progression in 2015, but his chances of landing on the 53-man roster will likely be slim to none.
Here's another position that already seems pretty set. Behind the four, I'd imagine the Bengals will retain John Peters on the practice squad if they liked what they saw last year.
The Bengals had five offensive tackles on the line last season, but they'll likely cut down to four this year. That shouldn't be a problem; the majority of the team's linemen are versatile enough to play inside or outside. I think 6-foot-7 offensive tackle John Weidenaar will land on the practice squad; he visited the Bengals prior to the Draft, and offensive line coach Paul Alexander seemed interested in finding a project offensive tackle.
Interior Offensive Line
To me, the last spot on the 53-man roster will be between Johnson and linebacker Trevor Roach. Right now, I'd expect the Bengals to keep Johnson on the roster early in the season, in case an offensive lineman goes down with an injury.
I honestly find it hard to believe the Bengals could be entering 2016 with four defensive ends on the roster, but unless they sign a defensive end before training camp, I'd expect that this is what the position group will look like. Hopefully, 2016 will finally be the season Hunt and/or Clarke can break out. Maybe the lack of playing time is what was holding these two defensive ends back. I envision the Bengals signing Dezmond Johnson to the practice squad.
The most complicated aspect of the defensive tackle position is where Brandon Thompson fits. I put Thompson in the injured reserve/designated to return category, but I feel that it's possible he either lands on the 53-man roster over Sims if the team believes he's healthy. DeShawn Williams should remain on the practice squad after filling in for Thompson on the roster at the end of the season.
Marquis Flowers, Jayson DiManche and Trevor Roach will all be competing for either one or two spots on the roster. I'd imagine Flowers wins the competition, and I'd anticipate the Bengals only fielding six linebackers, at least for the first three weeks of the season, while Taylor Mays and Vontaze Burfict are suspended.
William Jackson III
Pretty easy call here. From top to bottom, this may well be the deepest position group on the Bengals roster.
Some might want to see Fejedelem land on the practice squad, but who would fill in for him at safety? The Bengals seem to see Josh Shaw as more of a corner than as a safety, and if he were to move to safety, the team would need to replace him with a corner. In years past, the Bengals have been very conservative, keeping their late-round picks on the 53-man roster just in case another team might want to poach them off the practice squad. Floyd Raven should make the practice squad as a reserve safety.
Barring injury, this is what the special teams unit will look like. I don't imagine the Bengals will place a special-teamer on their practice squad.
Injured Reserve/Designated to Return
If the three above players return to action, I'd imagine the three guys who get the axe would be Pat Sims, Marquis Flowers and Clayton Fejedelem. I don't know whether Mays will make the roster, but Fejedelem would be the guy to go if it were to happen. In that case, Fejedelem would land on the practice squad and take Floyd Raven's place.
QB Keith Wenning
RB Bronson Hill
RB Tra Carson
WR James Wright
WR Jake Kumerow
TE John Peters
OT John Weidenaar
DE Dezmond Johnson
DT DeShawn Williams
S Floyd Raven