With training camp over a month away, the Bengals still need to figure out their defensive end rotation.
After established veterans Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, there's no other proven pass-rusher on the roster who can back those two up at end. Because the Bengals didn't spend a draft pick on any pass-rushers, that means some under-the-radar names could end up making the 53-man roster this year.
Perhaps none of them have as a good of a shot at doing so than Ryan Brown. A 6'6", 266-pound defensive end out of Mississippi State, Brown played all over the Bulldogs' defense during his time in Starkville. He racked up 73 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six sacks across 24 games as a starter over the past two years.
That came mainly at defensive end, but he also played defensive tackle and outside linebacker occasionally. His career highlight came last season in a win over Troy when Brown was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Trojans, which featured a career-high in tackles (7) and tackles for loss (3.5), including one sack and one pass breakup.
Brown became just the third Bulldogs player in the last five years to collect at least 3.5 tackles for loss in a game joining current NFL players Benardrick McKinney (2014) and Fletcher Cox (2011). Given the lack of the Bengals' depth at defensive end, Brown could be a sleeper to watch for in training camp and through the preseason.
Position: Defensive End
Weight: 266 pounds
College Mississippi State
A big reason for Brown's lack of sacks and overall college production is a foot injury he played with for much of the 2015 season. Brown suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in his third game of 2015, but still played in the remaining nine regular-season games. He then had surgery on the foot and missed the team's bowl game and didn't do much pre-draft work this offseason. He missed his team's Pro Day on March 11th, but was cleared to practice before the Draft and did go through private workouts with various NFL teams
Brown was also regarded as a defensive leader at Mississippi State and because the Bengals are so thin at defensive end, it's safe to say Brown's stock is trending slightly upward as he enters his first NFL training camp.
Chances of Making Roster
The Bengals DE unit heading into training camp includes just Brown, Will Clarke, Margus Hunt, Dunlap, Johnson, and fellow undrafted rookie Dezmond Johnson. Given the lack of the Bengals' depth at defensive end, Brown certainly has a good shot at making the team in 2016 with a great training camp and preseason. Still, Brown is coming off a subpar senior season followed by going undrafted, so even if he does well, the Bengals would probably rather stash him on the practice squad if they see NFL potential in him rather than handing over a spot on the 53-man roster.