Defensive tackle David Dean is one of seven Cincinnati Bengals practice squad players from last year who are still with the team, looking for a spot on the 53-man roster. Luckily, the spot he’s aiming for has seen a bit of turnover during the past few months. How good of a chance does he have to obtain it?
Position: Defensive tackle
Hometown: Virginia Beach
Experience: First-year Player
Dean signed a one-year, $465,000 contract with the Bengals this offseason. He has no dead money attached to him if he were to be released this season, and is set to be an exclusive rights free agent in 2018.
Before signing with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft, Dean played in 47 games and started 35 of them in his four years at the University of Virginia. While there, he recorded 10.5 sacks, forced three fumbles, and racked up 24.5 tackles for loss. Only three defensive tackles at Virginia had more tackles for loss in their college careers. He received All-ACC honorable mention in 2014 and 2015.
Dean was quite the player coming into Virginia as well. He was a four-star recruit by ESPN.com, and was the 30th ranked defensive tackle by Rivals.com. He was also a prominent figure on his high school baseball team.
Last year Dean was one of the better performers on the Bengals defense in the preseason, and such performances earned him a spot on the practice squad all year long, though he never was given a shot to play in the regular season.
Last year, the Bengals opened up the season with four defensive tackles on the roster, and that is typically they number they go with every year. But, it should be said that 2015 and 2016 fourth-round picks Marcus Hardison and Andrew Billings were both hurt and were placed on Injured Reserve for all of last season. Perhaps the Bengals were planning on going with five tackles last year and decided to carry one extra from another group due to lack of talent after injuries struck. Whatever the case may be, the Bengals were down two defensive tackles to open up last year and Dean still was denied a roster spot despite a promising preseason and training camp.
Now one year later, former starting nose tackle Domata Peko is no longer a Bengal, but the team has retained everyone else from last year, and added another defensive tackle in the fourth round for the third year in a row in Ryan Glasgow. The former Michigan tackle figures to develop into a nose tackle himself. Glasgow, and presumed starters Geno Atkins and Billings figure to be the only locks at the position entering training camp, so that leaves Hardison, Pat Sims, DeShawn Williams, and Dean all realistically fighting for that presumed final spot at the position. There’s also Brandon Thompson, now in his sixth year, and the 350-pound undrafted rookie Josh Tupou looking for an in too.
Dean has a lot of company at his position, with many players all fighting for at the most two spots. His chances of making the team last year were slim mainly because he was a rookie undrafted free agent. Being in the system for a year, like DeShawn Williams last year, can give him an edge to secure him a spot in September. But, the position is as crowded as it has ever been during the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era. Like with most practice squad players the Bengals retain for the past year, the odds of him making the practice squad again are far, far greater than for him making the final roster. It would take a remarkable offseason and proving he’s better than multiple drafted players for Dean to sniff the roster in 2017.
Roster odds: 5 percent.