The Bengals have a deep group of talented wide receivers, but few of them have proven they can make an impact in the NFL.
A.J. Green is one of the game’s best, but after him, do you really feel confident about Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd or even John Ross making a big impact next season?
And while Josh Malone, Alex Erickson and Cody Core have shown flashes, they had plenty of chances to stick out this past season, yet none of them could consistently produce.
That could have the Bengals considering a wide receiver at some point in this year’s draft. Still, with all of that potential already on the roster, the Bengals would ideally target a receiver late in the draft, which is where Antonio Callaway could come into play.
There may not be bigger combination of talent and red flags in this draft than Callaway has. As a true freshman at Florida in 2015, Callaway was one of the most electric receivers in college football. He caught 35 passes for 678 yards, good for a 19.4 yards per catch average, to go with four touchdowns.
But Callaway was just as explosiuve as a return man, as he returned 29 punts for 435 yards (15 avg.) and two scores.
As a sophomore in 2016, Callaway caught 54 passes for 721 yards and three more scores. He only averaged 8.4 yards per punt return that year, though he did return a short kickoff for a 44-yard touchdown. He has the potential to be an upgrade over Erickson as the Bengals’ return man.
Callaway had first-round talent written all over him, but off-field issues have killed any hope of that happening.
According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, here is a recap of Callaway’s off-field issues.
He faced a sexual assault trial between his freshman and sophomore year but was cleared of those charges before the 2016 season by admitting during the hearing he was “so stoned” he did not want to have sex with anyone. He was also cited for marijuana possession in May 2017 as a passenger in a car stopped because the driver wasn’t wearing his seatbelt; he pled no contest to possession of paraphernalia in July 2017. Calloway never played in 2017 because of his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme with other teammates.
Yeah, those kind of red flags are going to make it hard for Callaway to hear his name called at any point during the draft.
For what it’s worth, Zierlein still has Callaway listed as a Round 3-4 prospect, though if there have been knew issues arise in addition to his already-long list of red flags, he may very well slip late into Day 3 or out of the draft completely.