After Week 1 of the preseason, it became ESPN’s turn to place the Bengals amongst the league’s worst in a power ranking list.
After coming in at 29th after the draft, the Bengals moved up two spots to 27th in the latest power rankings from the worldwide leader in sports. It’s the same ranking NFL.com’s Elliott Harrison gave the team last week.
Each team’s updated ranking also included a surprise player to look out for for the regular season. NFL Nation’s Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell had this to say:
WR Auden Tate. The seventh-round draft pick was quietly doing some nice things in camp before having a breakout moment when he scored a touchdown in the first preseason game. Keeping Tate would mean making a hard decision and cutting one of the veteran receivers. But if Tyler Eifert’s status is uncertain, the 6-foot-5 Tate could be a nice complement to the team as a red zone threat.
Tate may not be a surprise to Bengals fans by now, but his emergence is now on watch for the rest of the league. His odds of making the roster have risen quite rapidly since the start of training camp, but it’s become clear that his immediate effectiveness will make another receiver expendable.
The most likely candidate is third-year receiver Cody Core, but there’s still plenty of time for him to make a case for himself.
Terrell also mentions Tate as an alternative option to tight end Tyler Eifert in the red zone. Eifert’s health is still up in the air (as it always is), and with head coach Marvin Lewis claiming he wants to limit Eifert’s snaps during the season, it would be quite the luxury to have Tate to fill in for Eifert’s shoes as well as playing alongside him in those situations.
Even if the Bengals put together three more performances in the remainder of the preseason like they did against the Bears, they probably won’t move up too far from the late 20s in most rankings.
If they put together a hot start in September when the games count for real, a changed perception may start to materialize.