Heading into training camp, most of the talk surrounding the wide receiver position revolved around who would fill the holes left by Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Guys like Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Cody Core were brought in this offseason to compete with some returning receivers and undrafted free agents for the five or six spots behind A.J. Green on the team’s 53-man roster.
When he was taken in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, it seemed like former Ole Miss receiver Cody Core had some learning to do before he’d be ready to play on game days in the NFL. He was noted as possessing remarkable work ethic and competitiveness along with boasting a good size and stronger than average athleticism. Many assumed the most he would do as a rookie would be to contribute on special teams.
Had you asked me what my prediction would be for the wide receiver depth chart after the draft, I wouldn’t have even included Core, and said 1) Green 2) Boyd 3) James Wright 4) LaFell 5) Mario Alford and 6) Brandon Tate. My seventh man who could either end up on the final roster or practice squad would have been Jake Kumerow with Core almost definitely being a practice squad addition. My depth chart definitely wouldn’t look like that now though, as certain players have developed and stood out in the first week of camp; and Core has certainly stood out.
Core came out of the gate strong at rookie mini camp, impressing the Bengals’ coaching staff right away. That was back in May; he was still impressing the Bengals in July at OTAs. Even now, heading into August, he’s been one of the most talked about players in training camp so far.
The team got a bit of a scare when he and Tyler Boyd were carted off the field on Day 2 of training camp. But, he came out strong on Day 3, showing everyone that he’s mentally tough and committed to earning a spot on this roster.
Licata to Core pic.twitter.com/fNESQVGAcL— Kyle Phelps (@KylePhelps92) July 31, 2016
Here are a few other plays featuring Core from camp so far.
Cody Core with a nice catch in 7 on 7 #bengals https://t.co/8Uvr95WgXy— sarah (@sarahpamerica) August 4, 2016
Cody Core with a nice catch in the end zone #bengals https://t.co/Rty8MW3in8— sarah (@sarahpamerica) August 2, 2016
With the kind of showing Core has had so far this offseason, it seems like he is definitely on pace to make the final roster. In fact, he might be prepared to be a bit more than just the No. 6 guy who mostly contributes on special teams.
With how well Core is doing, Alford may be on the outside looking in. He’ll need to prove he’s a reliable returner if he wants to secure a spot on the team. It has been noted that Alford has been struggling with drops in training camp. His returning ability was noted as being a reason to keep him around last year, but his hands have been a big point of contention between him and the coaching staff this offseason. Alford’s inconsistency could better-position Core to grab one of the final spots on the Bengals’ roster.
But, maybe any news is good news. In Wright’s case, aside from the fact that he was cleared for training camp last week, there really hasn’t been any news surrounding his bid to make the roster. He flashed his versatility and athleticism during his rookie year in 2014. But, he’s been completely out of practice for a while and didn’t really have a lot of buzz beforehand. My guess is that Wright will probably show enough to make the final roster. But, there’s a good chance that he doesn’t show enough to end up ranking ahead of Core on the depth chart.
Given Core’s natural talent, competitiveness, and flashes he’s shown so far, I would say that Core is poised to end up being a lock for one of the spots on the final roster. He could potentially even be high enough on the depth chart to be given multiple playing opportunities throughout the 2016 season. Following the developments of the offseason so far, my prediction for the final receiver depth chart currently stands at 1) Green 2) Boyd 3) LaFell 4) Tate 5) Core 6) Wright. And, I’m only really unsure of just how high to place Core on the depth chart.
What do you think?