The Cincinnati Bengals made a point to re-load their wide receiver position over the last two offseasons. Last year, only A.J. Green and James Wright carried over from the 2015 group while Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, and Alex Erickson joined the ranks.
This offseason, the Bengals have added even more talent to the pool, resulting in a situation where the Bengals are planning on keeping seven total receivers this year. When you have that much talent at receiver, you might as well flaunt it. The downside is, you don’t get to keep all of them.
These player will spend the preseason on the roster bubble, making every effort to take advantage of the few opportunities they have.
One of the most talked about bubble players this offseason is Core, the Bengals’ 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Bengals coaches have been absolutely raving about the 6’3, 205 pound deep threat who will likely have to hold off competition from the other young receivers for the sixth wide receiver spot on the team. In 2016 he recorded 17 catches for 200 yards, which probably won’t improve with more options for Dalton to throw to in 2017. But, he has the talent and competitiveness to surprise a lot of people.
As the team’s best kick returner, it would be surprising to see Erickson not make it onto the final roster. In fact, he is competing more for a utility role, than one in the wide receiver corps. However, he is also the Bengals’ least productive receiver - recording only six catches for 71 yards in 2016.
Averaging an AFC-best 27.9 yards per kick return should keep him in good enough standing to not threaten his spot with the team. But, he is, without a doubt, the Bengals’ seventh man at the wide receiver position. Still, he is far more important than the 53rd man on the roster.
Kumerow is the player with the best chance to give Core a run for his money for the last receiver spot. Once considered an exciting up-and-coming undrafted prospect from the 2015 NFL Draft class, Kumerow has consistently impressed in training camp and preseason, but failed to do so consistently enough to earn a spot on the final roster. 2017 will be Kumerow’s final year of practice squad eligibility, so the clock is ticking on his opportunity to finally take advantage of the work he has put in.
Being on the roster bubble might be a generous analysis for the former Cowboys undrafted receiver. He did play well with the Cowboys last preseason, but suffered a broken foot and was out for the 2016 season as a result. In 2017, he will try to make things work with the Bengals, although he has a lot of work to do to beat out guys like Core and Kumerow.
The Bengals have a talented receiver in Hamilton, who recorded the second most receptions in the FCS last year (111). His production at Samford (279 catches for 3,803 yards and 31 touchdowns) was certainly worth a second look after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, although he needs to refine his game if he wants to make it at the NFL level. Right now, it would be an absolute shock to see him earn anything higher than a practice squad spot. But, his potential is intriguing, to say the least.
Russell impressed for the Bengals as an undrafted receiver last year, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to earn him a spot on the final roster. That will likely be the case this year, although he has to be considered the favorite to return to the practice squad spot he earned last year. His lack of play speed keeps him from having much of a chance at beating out any more established players.
A graduate of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Madaris was expected to see more production than he saw in college, but injuries and quarterback issues kept him from reaching his full potential. A Cincinnati native, Madaris grew up watching the Bengals and is undoubtedly excited for a chance to play with them.
Unfortunately, he is entering the preseason as arguably the 90th man on the roster. He will need to absolutely go off in the preseason if he wants any chance of earning even a practice squad spot.