The Bengals’ roster is going through changes. After disappointing results in 2016, the team has been making a fair number of big moves and brought in a loaded draft class. For the most part, we can guess which players are going to make up the bulk of the roster. But, every year there are a few ‘bubble’ spots for fringe players to fight over. Don’t be surprised if these three players out-perform some established veterans to earn a spot on the team.
1) Alex Redmond
An undrafted guard out of UCLA, Redmond joined the Bengals following the 2016 NFL Draft, which he fell out of due to size, strength, and work ethic concerns. The Bengals picked him up and he impressed enough to make it until final roster cuts. However, he was picked back up on the practice squad and spent the year with the team. Now, with an offensive guard position in flux, there seems to be a wide open opportunity for him to find a spot on the roster as a backup to Clint Boling at left guard.
After a year of practicing and conditioning with the team, Redmond is ready to impress offensive line coach Paul Alexander and make the roster. He is primarily in competition with other undrafted players for the spot, but don’t be shocked to see his name on the Bengals’ 53-man roster.
2) Mason Schreck
The Bengals’ decision to pick up a tight end in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft seemed like a questionable one at first glance. But, when you think about it, is there any guarantee guys like Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah are safe on the roster? Uzomah only put up 25 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown in 2016, despite starting eight games due to injuries to Tyler Eifert and Kroft. 35 percent of the passes thrown his way were not hauled in, which doesn’t look great. Kroft spent a few games injured and finished the season with just 10 catches for 92 yards in 14 games played. An impressive training camp and preseason from Schreck could see one of the 2015 draft picks ousted.
Not a shoe-in to be drafted, Schreck made the cut on his measurables. It is hard to argue with his explosion and proficiency for actually catching the ball. Schreck needs to use this offseason to work on his weight and route-running if he wants to carve out a spot for himself on the roster. But, the opportunity is there for the taking.
3) Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams
At 5’7”, 190 pounds, Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams does not look like an NFL running back. But, that didn’t stop him from going off during his three seasons in college at the University of Kentucky. Given his size, he is unlikely to be of much use to the Bengals in any role other than change-of-pace back. But, if the Bengals can find excuses to throw him into the offense from time to time, he will absolutely reward them with the same impressive running performances with which he dazzled Kentucky fans.
Get him the ball on the edge and he will fly past defenders. If he gets into space in the second level, things could get scary for opposing defenses. He still has plenty of work to do in terms of fighting through contact, vision, and holding onto the ball. But, if the Bengals are potentially looking to move on from the 30-year old Cedric Peerman, Williams could be a good addition to a Bengals backfield that has been carrying four backs for the better part of the last decade. Yes, his size and lack of power could be a major issue at the NFL level. But, that’s what analysts said about Rex Burkhead.
All of these players are expected to be on the outside looking in when final roster cuts come around. Primarily, because they simply don’t have the pedigree of others at their position. But, the Bengals saw something in each of them that said they deserve a chance. Now, all they need to do is take advantage of that opportunity.