It’s roster cutdown weekend and the Cincinnati Bengals have assembled their current 53-man roster. Now, while it’s almost finalized, there are a few moves the Bengals will be making before the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on September 10.
With third string quarterback Jeff Driskel ailing from two broken fingers and looking to be out around eight weeks, the team will be bringing back a previously-waived player, or scour the waiver wire for someone else. Cincinnati needed to add Driskel to the 53-man roster before moving him to make him eligible for the Injured Reserve designation to return. He can be moved to IR on Monday.
Still, when you look across the 2017 squad the coaches have put together, there are some glaring omissions. One of those happens to be four of the team’s 11 draft picks not being present on the current roster.
Now, seventh-round pick Mason Schreck is headed to I.R., but fifth-round selections Jake Elliott and J.J. Dielman, as well as sixth-round pick, Brandon Wilson, are now players the team is going to try and get on to the practice squad. Essentially, 36 percent of the picks the team used in April are not currently on the 53-man roster.
Before we totally start calling into question the team’s mode of operation this offseason, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt on a couple of aspects. Hindsight aside, two other rookies did make the final roster in undrafted free agents Cethan Carter and Hardy Nickerson, Jr.
The team did make it known this offseason that getting 11 rookies on the final roster would be tough. After all 11/53 is 20 percent of the roster and having 20 percent of the roster filled will rookies might not be ideal.
Still, why did the team put so much stock into keeping so many picks when they knew it would be hard to find a place for all of them? Obviously, adding young talent through the draft is cheaper than diving into outside free agency (which the Bengals shy away from), but why not package some of those picks to move up and go for quality over quantity? Really, how the team operated with these four rookies who are not on the final roster was a head-scratcher.
For Wilson, his situation with the club is probably the most puzzling. A versatile defensive back and special teams star in college, the Bengals had big plans for him. They made the rare move up to get him after they accumulated more draft collateral (from moving back in the second round and subsequently grabbing Joe Mixon) and snagged him in Round 6.
Then, veteran special teams ace Cedric Peerman landed on IR, seemingly paving the way for a guy like Wilson to seal his roster fate. The Bengals activated Wilson off of the NFI just before the preseason finale against the Colts and then...they waived him Saturday afternoon. He could have just stuck on NFI if the Bengals didn’t know for sure he was going to make the cut. That way, he could remain with the team and compete again next year for an opportunity. The Bengals not only used a draft pick to select Wilson but traded up, giving away another draft pick, to grab him.
To be fair, the Bengals gave Dielman, Elliott and Schreck varying degrees of opportunities to win their jobs and they just felt they didn’t show them enough, or couldn’t stay healthy. Still, there has to be a sense of missed opportunities in the latter half of this year’s draft, right?
The good news is that the talent the team amassed elsewhere in the class not only made the team, but appear to be very promising. Jordan Willis, Jordan Evans and Carl Lawson were three of the best overall defensive players of the preseason, while Ryan Glasgow was a Pro Football Focus beast in the early games. Additionally, Joe Mixon appears to be a budding superstar and receivers Josh Malone and John Ross have bright futures.
While we shouldn’t be totally surprised at a handful of picks not making the Bengals’ final roster, maybe the team should learn a lesson on their often-conservative ways with the draft. If they collect more draft picks in the coming years, which they already have in 2018 via a trade with the Patriots involving Marquis Flowers and 2019 after the Bene Benwikere trade with the Cowboys, they shouldn’t be hesitant to sacrifice a pick or two in order to get a potential higher-impact player.
What do you think of the Bengals’ 2017 roster and the number of draft picks who failed to make the cut?