One of the more under-the-radar Bengals entering the 2016 is linebacker Marquis Flowers.
The third-year backer out of Arizona is by no means a lock to make the final roster, but he's in great position to do so. After being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Flowers appeared in every game as a rookie, including one start vs the Broncos.
But in 2015, Flowers injured his shoulder during the Bengals' preseason finale against the Colts. That led to him being on Injured/Reserve for all of 2015, but he's fully recovered now and looking to make the roster, possibly as the kind of hybrid linebacker/defensive back we saw Taylor Mays become.
In college, Flowers originally committed to Arizona as an elite defensive back before playing exclusively at safety as a backup in 2011. But after moving to linebacker full-time in 2012, he slowly developed into a star for the Wildcats' defense.
In 2013, Flowers registered 94 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss to go with one sack, a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception returned for a touchdown. In 2012, he racked up 100 stops and 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and intercepted three passes (returning one for a TD).
Flowers hits like a backer and runs like a safety, having run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4 at his Pro Day. He was even described as a "Kam Chancellor-type linebacker turned safety" entering the NFL. We only saw glimpses of Flowers as a rookie before he missed all of his second year, so he could be in for a big breakout year in 2016.
Weight: 250 pounds
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Experience: 3rd-Year Player
Because Vontaze Burfict is suspended for three games, Nick Vigil is a rookie and P.J. Dawson has rarely seen the field, Flowers is actually one of the most experienced backers on the roster. He also knows the defense better than newcomer Karlos Dansby, being that Flowers has been with the team for over two years now.
And with Emmanuel Lamur leaving this offseason, there's already more playing time up for grabs at linebacker. While it remains to be seen if Flowers can take advantage of it, just being in the position he's in is why his stock is up in 2016.
Flowers needs to have a good showing in training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Most likely, he's battling Jayson DiManche, Trevor Roach and Darien Harris for that final linebacker roster spot, assuming the Bengals keep six.
You have to think P.J. Dawson, Vinny Rey, Rey Maualuga, Nick Vigil and Karlos Dansby make the final roster, which means Flowers would likely be the sixth backer. However, Vontaze Burfict will take a roster spot once his three-game suspension is up, so either the Bengals keep seven backers at that point, or Flowers may be cut once Burfict is back.
While that's up for debate, there's no question that Flowers has a great shot at making the initial 53-man roster, which I give him a 65-percent chance of doing.