While some positions on the Bengals’ 53-man roster are locked up as securely as the files in Area 51, others are far from settled and are screaming to be grabbed like your luggage going through airport security.
The Bengals initial depth chart released last week, which gave us a glimpse at how those unsettled positions could shake out. After just one game, it seems that a few tweaks should be implemented on that initial depth chart.
Here are the most pressing changes that I would make heading into the second preseason game when the Bengals face the Dallas Cowboys.
There was no controversy over who the Bengals starter was for 2018. Andy Dalton is the starter, and that is not going to change. But the backup position is up for grabs, and I’d move Jeff Driskel up to the #2, and slide Matt Barkley down to #3.
I assume the Bengals made Barkley the #2 because he is the veteran, but at some point talent and performance have to win out, right?
Driskel clearly looked like the better quarterback against the Bears. He made better throws and showed an ability to avoid the rush – which is key with this offensive line. Speaking of which...
Going into this game, we kind of assumed that the Bengals would be okay on the left side, hoped they would be okay in the middle, and feared they might struggle on the right side. The first game pretty much confirmed all of those assumptions.
Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling, and Billy Price should be starting at LT, LG, and C, respectively. That’s essentially etched in stone as surely as the decalogue. But Trey Hopkins and Bobby Hart clearly struggled on the right side of the line.
Meanwhile, Christian Westerman and Jake Fisher looked solid at left guard and left tackle, respectively, against the Bears second-string defensive line.
For the second game, I’d slide Fisher over to RT and Westerman to RG and pencil them in as the starters at those spots. We have already seen that Hopkins and Hart struggle in that role. Let’s see if Fisher and Westerman fare any better when they face the Cowboys starters.
A.J. Green is the Bengals #1 receiver. Nothing is going to change that this year. When the Bengals released veteran Brandon LaFell last week it opened a door for a pair of youngsters to claim that #2 spot in the pecking order for targets and receptions.
Tyler Boyd played solidly against the Bears, while John Ross had some struggles, such as falling down on a route which led to a pick-six touchdown for the Bears.
A week ago the Bengals had Ross ahead of Boyd, but it would be difficult not to put Boyd ahead of Ross. I’d certainly feed Ross plenty of repetitions throughout the remainder of preseason, until he begins to look like an NFL wide receiver, but Boyd has to be made the team’s second option.
I’d also move Auden Tate up a rung or two. I’m not quite ready to say Tate deserves more looks than Ross in real games, but when Eifert again misses substantial time this year the Bengals will benefit by having a large red zone target who can replace him, and getting Tate more reps will certainly help in that endeavor.
What changes would you make to the Bengals depth chart right now?