The Cincinnati Bengals have finished the preseason. It ended Thursday night with a 7-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, many players will await the final roster cutdown to see if they made or missed the cut. The Bengals must construct their 53-man roster by 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 2. Before that happens, here is a look at our final projection for the 2017 Bengals 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad.
Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel*
The Bengals love the potential of Jeff Driskel, so much that I believe it’s a real 50-50 call as to whether he makes or misses the cut. But in the end, this staff knows their future is bleak in Cincinnati if they don’t win this year, and a third quarterback isn’t helping them win games. A backup at another position like Wallace Gilberry may do so.
However, Driskel suffered a broken thumb on Thursday. That means the Bengals can now keep him without subjecting him to waivers by placing him on Injured Reserve. They have to wait until Monday of Week 1 to place him on IR, and in the process, Gilberry loses his spot. But because Gilberry is a vested veteran, he can be cut and then re-signed next week without being subject to waivers (more on that below).
For now, consider Driskel on the 53-man roster for Saturday and Sunday before going to IR on Monday.
RUNNING BACK/H-BACK (4)
Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Joe Mixon, Ryan Hewitt (h-back)
The Bengals want to keep Tra Carson, but the ability for Brandon Wilson to be an emergency running back makes it easy to keep just three true backs. Ryan Hewitt can also take some handoffs in a pinch.
Cut: Tra Carson, Jarveon Williams, Darrin Laufasa
WIDE RECEIVER (7)
A.J. Green, John Ross, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson
It’s hard to say seven receivers are a lock for the final roster, but from 1-7, you won’t find a more talented receiver group in the NFL. Cody Core missing time put him closer toward the bubble, but not enough that he’s in any real danger of being waived.
Cut: Chris Brown, Kermit Whitfield, Alonzo Russell
TIGHT END (3)
Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah
With C.J. Uzomah recovering from an ankle injury, it’s possible the Bengals keep another tight end for a week or two. However, Hewitt being able to get snaps here allows the Bengals to rely on him as well as Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft for the time being.
Cut: Mason Schreck, Cethan Carter
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Tackle (3): Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Andre Smith
Guard (4): Clint Boling, Trey Hopkins, Christian Westerman, J.J. Dielman
Center (2): Russell Bodine, T.J. Johnson
The Bengals give up on Eric Winston to keep one of their younger, more promising offensive linemen. Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman have shown enough to keep them over an aging veteran like Winston, who is only signed for one more year. Westerman is signed for three more years, while Dielman is a rookie with four years left.
Cut: Eric Winston, Landon Lechler, Kent Perkins, Cameron Lee, Alex Redmond, Dustin Stanton
Total on offense: 26
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
Defensive End: Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Jordan Willis, Chris Smith
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Pat Sims
This is probably the hardest position on the roster to project. There are just too many good players here to feel good about any guess as to how it shapes out. I think veterans Wallace Gilberry and Pat Sims could easily be cut, but I have both of them surviving since the Bengals are so familiar with them, and both players still add help in situational roles.
Cut: Marcus Hardison, David Dean, Will Clarke, Ryan Brown, DeShawn Williams, Josh Tupou, *Wallace Gilberry (re-signed to roster once Jeff Driskel goes on IR)
**Vontaze Burfict, Kevin Minter, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Vincent Rey, Carl Lawson, **Brandon Bell
Vontaze Burfict will not count toward the roster during his three-game suspension. While he’s out, another linebacker will make the roster. That final linebacker spot comes down to P.J. Dawson, Hardy Nickerson Jr. and Brandon Bell. I could easily see any of the three making it, and it’s not out of the question that Cincinnati keeps two of them.
But for this final projection, I have Bell getting the final nod after a good showing on Thursday.
Cut: Hardy Nickerson Jr., P.J. Dawson, Bryson Albright
DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
Cornerback: ***Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, ***KeiVarae Russell
Safety: George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Derron Smith, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson
The defensive back group shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, assuming the Bengals had made most of the decisions prior to Thursday. With Adam Jones suspended for Week 1, that means either Bene Benwikere or KeiVarae Russell will be on the initial roster. Russell was the slight favorite going into Thursday. That’s even more true after Benwikere struggled in this game.
The safety spots are pretty much locked up with Brandon Wilson the only one not 100 percent for sure on the roster. The Bengals just activated him off the Non-Football Injury list (NFI), so it’s hard to see Cincinnati waiving him right now. If he wasn’t going to make the roster, the team could have (and likely would have) kept him on NFI to start the year.
However, Wilson could get waived once Jones returns to the 53-man roster. So too could Russell, which is who we have getting axed once Jones is back in Week 2.
Cut: Bene Benwikere, Tony McRae, Demetrious Cox
Total on defense: 24
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Kicker: Randy Bullock
Punter: Kevin Huber
Long-snapper: Clark Harris
Jake Elliott has been far from good, and Randy Bullock has been superior throughout training camp and the preseason. Even after Bullock’s miss on Thursday, I think he wins the job. The Bengals will try to get Elliott to the practice squad as a fifth round draft pick this year. But, it’s no certainty he makes it there.
Cut: Jake Elliott
Total on special teams: 3
10-MAN PRACTICE SQUAD
- LB P.J. Dawson
- LB Hardy Nickerson Jr.
- S Demetrious Cox
- DL Marcus Hardison
- CB Tony McRae
- K Jake Elliott
- OG Alex Redmond
- RB Jarveon Williams
- RB Tra Carson
- WR Alonzo Russell