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Bengals post-draft 53-man roster and practice squad predictions

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2016: The year Brandon Tate and Margus Hunt are clear roster locks.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Andy Dalton

AJ McCarron

No-brainers here. Keith Wenning, who backed up McCarron in Week 17 and the Wild Card game, lands on the practice squad.

Running Back

Jeremy Hill

Giovani Bernard

Cedric Peerman

Rex Burkhead

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

A.J. Green

Brandon LaFell

Tyler Boyd

Brandon Tate

Cody Core

Mario Alford

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.

Tight End/H-Back

Tyler Eifert

Ryan Hewitt

Tyler Kroft

C.J. Uzomah

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.

Offensive Tackle

Andrew Whitworth

Cedric Ogbuehi

Jake Fisher

Eric Winston

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

Kevin Zeitler

Clint Boling

Russell Bodine

Christian Westerman

T.J. Johnson

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.

Defensive End

Carlos Dunlap

Michael Johnson

Margus Hunt

Will Clarke

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.

Defensive Tackle

Geno Atkins

Domata Peko

Marcus Hardison

Andrew Billings

Pat Sims

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.

Linebacker

Rey Maualuga

Karlos Dansby

Vincent Rey

P.J. Dawson

Nick Vigil

Marquis Flowers

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.

Cornerback

Adam Jones

Dre Kirkpatrick

Darqueze Dennard

Josh Shaw

William Jackson III

Chris Lewis-Harris

Pretty easy call here. From top to bottom, this may well be the deepest position group on the Bengals roster.

Safety

George Iloka

Shawn Williams

Derron Smith

Clayton Fejedelem

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.

Special Teams

Mike Nugent

Kevin Huber

Clark Harris

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.

Suspended

Vontaze Burfict

Taylor Mays

Injured Reserve/Designated to Return

Brandon Thompson

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.

Practice Squad

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