It's not often that a sixth-round pick has as much roster security as Cody Core, but the Bengals rookie is in a unique position, with the potential to be a big contributor in his first NFL season.
As expected, the Bengals grabbed multiple wide receivers in this year's NFL Draft with such a big need there, the second of those two picks was Core, out of Ole Miss in Round 6. The 199th-overall pick comes to the Queen City after an intriguing career with the Rebels.
Though for the last two seasons, the majority of the focus on the passing game in Oxford was surrounding Rebels receiver Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss had another quality pass-catcher in Core. The 6'3", 205-pound wideout had 78 receptions for 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Throughout his four-year playing career at Ole Miss, Core played in 51 games, had 83 receptions for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 25.4 yards per game. The guys at Roster Watch did a good draft profile of Core and compared him to some notable NFL receivers, acknowledging that he's a physical guy, not afraid to go over the middle with bodies around him.
While Core's production doesn't scream that of an NFL receiver, he's got the physical tools and measurables to make it in this league.
Position: Running back
Weight: 205 pounds
Combine: 40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds; 20-yard short shuttle: 4.4 seconds; 3-cone: 6.75 seconds; Vertical: 37.5"; Broad jump: 9'8"
As a rookie sixth-round pick, Core is now signed to a four-year NFL contract. Per Over The Cap, the total value of the deal is $2,467,932, an average of $616,983 per year. Core signed his deal quickly after being drafted, during rookie minicamp. As of now, I would venture to guess Core makes it at least this year with the Bengals and likely will remain with the team for the next three seasons, at least. Year 4 will be when Core is either stepping up and making an impact or playing for another team.
Stock in 2016
In 2015, his final year of college, Core ranked fifth among SEC players and 33rd nationally with 17.4 yards per catch. He finished second on the team behind Treadwell with 644 receiving yards, but only caught 37 balls and four scores in the process.
Those numbers look pretty great, especially when considering that he had to share touches with one of the top receivers in this year's draft. Then again, Core wasn't considered nearly as talented nor polished as his counterpart due to below-average hands and a serious need for refining his routes.
But the good news is, Core doesn't have a lot of refined or talented receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. After presumed starters A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell, Core will be competing with the likes of Tyler Boyd, Brandon Tate, Mario Alford, James Wright (coming off major knee surgery), Jake Kumerow and several receivers who went undrafted in 2016 for playing time.
Core also played a lot of special teams during his first two years at Mississippi and Treadwell's presence on the team held him back a bit. Core was a converted defensive back who only began playing receiver full-time in 2014. He finished with 21 tackles in his college career, 16 of which came over his first two collegiate seasons.
Odds of making the roster
Core's defensive and special teams background is a big reason why the Bengals took him over receivers like Southern Miss' Michael Thomas or Tulsa's Keyarris Garrett in Round 6, both of whom were rated as better prospects than Core. His ability to make an impact there will not only help him make the roster, but even be active on game days.
The Bengals love for rookies, especially late-round guys, to be major contributors on special teams. They've gone as far as to spend picks on guys like James Wright mostly based on their special teams impact, so this pick was not surprising.
Core's odds of making the roster are 70 percent for the time being. He'd need to have a pretty bad showing in training camp and through the preseason to be let go. If he is waived, I give him a 90-percent chance of making it to the Bengals practice squad if no one else claims him. Expect Core to make the final 53-man roster and be one of the harder calls each week in terms of whether to be active or inactive on game days.