The preseason is complete, which means the Bengals are finalizing their 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
Of course, the roster will change throughout the season as players return from injuries, others go down with their own injury, and better players become available through waivers.
But for now, we’re focusing on what the 53-man roster will look like for Week 1 vs. the Seahawks. Here is our final projection:
Quarterbacks (2): Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley
Jeff Driskel’s injury proved costly, as he’s missed the last two games and allowed Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala to shine in his absence. But the Bengals have too many issues at other positions to warrant keeping three quarterbacks, so Driskel gets the boot and Dolegala ends up on the practice squad.
Running Backs (4): Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Jordan Ellis
This is a sneaky hard position to project with Rodney Anderson and Trayveon Williams both injured. Will the Bengals actually carry both of them on the 53-man roster and rely on Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard to get all of the touches for the first couple of games?
If Anderson’s knee injury is serious, he may end up on IR and pave the way for Jordan Ellis to sneak onto the final roster. Geoff Hobson thinks Anderson may have re-tore his ACL, so I’m giving Ellis the edge here.
Wide Receivers: (7): A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate, Damion Willis, Josh Malone
This is probably the tough decision remaining. Green, Boyd, Ross, Erickson and Willis effectively have their spots secured. That leaves Auden Tate, Josh Malone, Cody Core, Stanley Morgan and Ventell Bryant to battle it out for those final spots.
Malone had a decent showing in the preseason after looking good in training camp, so I’m giving him one of those spots. Tate also played well in camp and the preseason while also having several years left on his contract, whereas Core is a free agent next year and won’t have practice squad eligibility.
Tate does, so the Bengals can keep him on the roster for the time being, then when Green returns from his injury, try to sneak the second-year receiver onto the practice squad.
Tight Ends (4): C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Eifert, Drew Sample, Mason Schreck
The only real debate here is Schreck vs. Jordan Franks and Cethan Carter for the final spot. Schreck has consistently looked better in the preseason, so I’m giving him the narrow edge.
Offense Tackles (3): Cordy Glenn, Bobby Hart, Andre Smith
Interior Offensive Line (5): Michael Jordan, Trey Hopkins, John Miller, John Jerry, Billy Price
Lord have mercy the Bengals are in trouble if John Jerry has to ever play tackle. He was so bad at it Thursday that he probably made the Bengals rethink keeping him after it looked like his spot was safe. But he practiced more in training camp and played more in the preseason than Christian Westerman, who gets waived and looks to get his chance with another team.
Edge Defenders (5): Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, Kerry Wynn
Interior Defensive Line (5): Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Andrew Brown, Renell Wren
The only real debate here is if Josh Tupo should make the roster, but who are you cutting him for? Wren has shown some nice flashes and was a fourth-round pick this year. Brown looks like a different player after injuries plagued his rookie season. Maybe the Bengals go with an unprecedented 11 defensive lineman and Tupou is the final man, especially if Brown ends up playing on the edge a lot.
But for now, I have him landing on the practice squad
Linebackers (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Germaine Pratt, Deshaun Davis, Hardy Nickerson
The Bengals are a mess at linebacker, and I think there’s a real chance they only keep four of these guys and look to acquire more backers off of waivers or through a trade.
Davis was up and down in the preseason, but I think the Bengals give him a shot since he was a sixth-round pick this year.
As for Nickerson, he has experience, if you consider failure experience.
Cornerbacks (5): William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, B.W. Webb, Darius Phillips, Tony McRae
With Darqueze Dennard ending up on PUP, that paves the way for Tony McRae to sneak onto the roster. He was consistently better than former fifth-round pick Davontae Harris, who ends up on the practice squad. McRae hasn’t looked good this preseason, but like Nickerson, he has experience, only McRae has actually had some nice flashes at times.
Safeties (4): Jessie Bates III, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson
There’s a chance the Bengals keep Trayvon Henderson as an extra safety depending on if Fej is ready for Week 1. Henderson has shown some flashes and even got some brief looks at linebacker. I think it’s safe to say most of us would rather see him on the roster than Nickerson.
Specialists (3): Randy Bullock, Kevin Huber, Clark Harris
No words needed.
Practice Squad (11):
- QB Jake Dolegala
- RB Quinton Flowers
- WR Stanley Morgan
- WR Ventell Bryant
- TE Mortiz Böhringer (International Player Pathway Program)
- TE Jordan Franks
- DL Josh Tupou
- LB Malik Jefferson
- S Trayvon Henderson
- CB Davontae Harris
- CB Jordan Brown
- CB Darqueze Dennard
- RB Rodney Anderson
- OT Jonah Williams (Williams may also be kept on the final roster and subsequently placed on IR, giving him the option to return later in the season)
- Alex Redmond (4 games for PED use)