Minicamp is now completed for the Bengals, who by all accounts have had a very productive slate of OTAs this offseason.
Since the team first began these workouts in April, we’ve heard mostly great things about the team from players, coaches and media alike. Minicamp was mostly just more confirmation of the good vibes we’ve been getting for the past two months.
Now, it’s time for a recap of the five biggest takeaways from Bengals minicamp.
William Jackson’s ascension continues
The NFL may be sleeping on William Jackson, but those around Cincinnati know he has the potential to become a superstar. He already played at a high level in his first year as a starter in 2017. All indications have been Jackson has only improved this offseason and is ready for a bigger step in 2018.
It certainly helps that Jackson has spent most of the offseason going head to head with A.J. Green, one of the 2-3 best receivers in football. If Jackson manages to improve upon his breakout 2017 season, he could wind up being the Bengals’ best player in 2018, and that’s saying something with a roster that has Green and Geno Atkins.
John Ross getting back to form
John Ross is hoping to follow Jackson’s path of having his big breakout in Year 2 after injuries effectively ended their rookie seasons. Ross was able to appear in several games last year, but he was never right while recovering from shoulder surgery, only to sustain another shoulder injury during the season.
Now that Ross has had plenty of time to rest and recover, he’s gotten a full workload in OTAs, and he’s shown glimpses of the player Cincinnati thought they were getting with the ninth overall pick.
Cedric Ogbuehi salvaging career
One of the most consistent themes in OTAs has been the improvements of Cedric Ogbuehi. Now entering a contract year after his fifth-year option was declined, expect Ogbuehi to step it up a notch in 2018, and it helps that new offensive line coach Frank Pollack has provided a new and improved coach for this position.
Obviously, we can only take away so much from pad-less OTAs, but it has been good to hear Ogbuehi consistently drawing praise throughout the offseason. He probably won’t have a starting spot when Week 1 opens, but it would be great if he could become a sixth swing lineman that can play throughout the line.
Remember, the plan is for Ogbuehi to get a lot of work at guard in training camp, so it’s not out of the question he’s the starting right guard at some point.
Watch out for Auden Tate
The Bengals have been severely lacking a jump-ball receiver that consistently won one-on-one matchups since Marvin Jones left. The hope is Tate can become that, at least as a red-zone threat with his 6-5, 228-pound frame, and he’s been doing just that in OTAs.
Tate is still facing some tough odds of making the Week 1 roster, but a good showing in OTAs has his stock trending upward heading into training camp.
Don’t count on Tyler Eifert
Another year, another offseason of concerns and questions with Tyler Eifert. He missed most of 2017 with knee and back injuries, though he was believed to be recovered from them when OTAs began. He took part in most of the sessions up until training camp, then was a mysterious absentee on Day 1 before missing the final two practices.
Then, Marvin Lewis refused to say if Eifert would even be ready for the first full day of camp. Perhaps Eifert was never as healthy as we thought as he went through pad-less OTAs, or maybe there was some kind of setback he suffered.
Whatever the case may be, the Bengals just can’t count on Eifert as anything more than a bonus if he’s able to play and be effective.