Every year there are players who take the next step and become big contributors. One way to determine who these players may be is to see who’s receiving the most buzz during offseason practices. There are always players who coaches and players rave about, and sometimes we’ll see that offseason success translate to the season. Here’s a look at five players who generated the most buzz during OTAs.
1) Cody Core
“He’s fast, you can tell he’s put in a lot of work. He looks really good.” - Andy Dalton
“He can run and he’s going to do all the work going in there blocking. He’s a competing player. Cody has a chance to be something special.” - Adam Jones
Cody Core is a player who showed some flashes of greatness in his rookie year. After two receivers were selected in the 2017 draft, it seemed like Core may have a hard road to even make the roster this season. However, with all the buzz he has been receiving, he may not only make the roster, but have a big impact on the field. There’s something to be said when a cornerback is complimenting a receiver. Core has great measurables and a lot of potential if he can maximize his size and speed and perfect his route running.
2) Carl Lawson
“He’s smart. A real smart guy. Picks it up. Studies. He’s always up watching tape, he’s going to be good.” - Paul Guenther
“He’s strong as hell. He’s fast as hell. He gets to the corner. Really, he can kind of be like a Von Miller off the edge type guy.” - Vontaze Burfict
Carl Lawson was considered one of the bigger steals of the draft when the Bengals drafted him in the fourth round and it looks like that idea has been backed up in OTAs. Lawson has easily been the most hyped player of the offseason and if he can stay healthy he should make a big impact in his rookie year. He is an extremely talented pass rusher and very natural at getting after the quarterback. He should see some snaps at outside linebacker along with defensive end.
3) Joe Mixon
“He’s 225 and he can block, he’s an incredible runner and tremendous receiver.” - Cris Collinsworth
“Our running backs room just got a lot better overnight, it will be great to get him in here and get him working and get him out on the field, see what he can do. Just helps out offense” - Jeremy Hill
Joe Mixon is an extremely talented running back and it would be surprising if he wasn’t playing the majority of snaps by the middle of his rookie year. He has a world of potential to be a stud in his rookie year and make a big impact on the team. He will hopefully receive more and more praise as the year goes on and as he dominates opposing defenses.
4) Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi
“Each time we go out and face our defense we get better and better because they’re good on the edge.” - Ken Zampese
“They’re in good shape and they’ve got good attitudes, and that’s the best thing we can have from them right now because we have a chance to accelerate the learning curve.” - Ken Zampese
Fisher and Ogbuehi are potentially the two most important players for the Bengals’ 2017 season and early word from OTAs is positive. Of course early practice without full contact and pads makes it hard to really tell how much they have approved. But, any good news is appreciated when it comes to this duo and hopefully an impressive offseason will translate to productivity during the season.
5) Nick Vigil
“He’s smart. He helps me out when we’re there in nickel or whatever package he’s in with me. He helps me out. I see him growing year by year, day by day.” - Vontaze Burfict
“He’s a versatile guy. He can do everything, what I try to do is put our guys with their abilities in position for us and our scheme to best utilize their abilities.” - Paul Guenther
Vigil played more and more as his rookie season wore on and he is now poised to have a big second year. It seems likely he becomes the nickel linebacker for the Bengals in his second NFL season and hopefully, he can become a great linebacker next to Vontaze Burfict. The early buzz is reassuring and hopefully when there is full contact and pads on, he can dominate even more and make plays in both the passing and running games.