Every team seems to have a position where they have plenty of players who can step in after a starter goes down, and keep things running smoothly. The Cincinnati Bengals are a little different in that they have quite a few positions where they have stockpiled talent. But at which position are they deepest?
To find out, first we need to define what makes a position deep. For our purposes I’ll simplify it into having payers who can step in at any point, and allow the team to remain productive at that position. This rules out positions that may just be competitive for roster spots or starting spots. So here are a few of the deepest positions the Bengals have heading into training camp.
After losing Marvin Jones Jr. and Mohamed Sanu two seasons ago, the Bengals have made it a point to reload at the wide receiver position. The Bengals also added the fastest player to ever run the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine, John Ross, in the first round. Then the team drafted Josh Malone, who is very impressive prospect in his own right in Round 4.
These players were added on top of a pretty decent group of receivers already. A.J. Green is returning after suffering from a hamstring injury that cost him a good portion of last season. Brandon LaFell was serviceable last season as the receiver opposite Green. Tyler Boyd, last year’s second round pick, also showed flashes of promise toward the end of the season, and he was able to build more of a familiarity with Andy Dalton when Green was out of commission. Cody Core also played pretty well during the last few games of the season on the perimeter.
Overall, It’s safe to say the Bengals are pretty well off at the receiver position.
When you spend three first round picks on a position, you end up with some fairly good depth. Crazy, right?! The Bengals’ starting corners seem to be Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones heading into camp. Jones was hit with a one game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, which means the position’s depth will be tested early.
The rest of the depth is filled out by having Josh Shaw, who played very well in the nickel spot when given the opportunity. The Bengals also have William Jackson, last season’s first round pick, and Darqueze Dennard who was just hit with the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, which shows the Bengals have high hopes for him. These two will likely be competing for Jones’ spot in Week 1, and if they play well enough, it is possible (though unlikely in the short-term) they could take the position permanently.
Having four corners who can all be productive from the outside is a pretty nice luxury to have as an NFL team in such a pass happy league.
Say what you will about Jeremy Hill, but he could be a starter on plenty of NFL rosters. He may not be a superstar running back like we thought he’d be after his rookie year, but he has been productive, especially on the goal line, scoring a total of 29 touchdowns in three seasons.
The Bengals also have Giovani Bernard who often seems to be the forgotten man by many fans. Bernard’s season was cut short due to an ACL injury, but when healthy he is a very productive do-it-all running back. Going into last season Bernard had a three season streak of eclipsing at least 1,000 total yards from scrimmage. He did this while never really being the featured running back. Reports have come out that Bernard will be healthy enough to avoid the PUP list heading into training camp and should be good to go for the season. Although, the Bengals could take their time with Bernard as his recovery has been unthinkably quick and the depth is there.
The main reason this could be the deepest position for the Bengals is the acquisition of Joe Mixon in the second round this season. Despite all the questions about Mixon off-the-field, there are no questions about him on it. Mixon played almost exclusively out of the shotgun in college, which is something the Bengals needed to improve on after Hill struggled to do well in that formation. Mixon is also a great receiver out of the backfield.
When all of these players are healthy, the Bengals essentially have three starting running backs on the roster who are capable of producing at a high level.