Due to injuries and, well, a severe lack of talent at these positions, the Bengals ended up going low at running back (three), offensive line (eight) and linebacker (five). When talking about the roster cutdown, head coach Zac Taylor mentioned that there could be waiver claims made by the team this weekend to address issues at these positions.
There isn’t much talent out there, especially at offensive tackle, but you can make the case for a handful of players at each position. Here’s five running backs, offensive tackles and linebackers the Bengals should consider adding to their unfinished roster:
Samaje Perine: The Redskins are extremely deep at the running back position, which is the main reason why they cut ties with Perine. Their fourth-round pick from 2017 rushed for 43 yards on 20 carries this preseason and has rushed 635 yards on 185 carries in two seasons. He was also Joe Mixon’s main running mate at Oklahoma a few years back.
John Kelly: Here’s a guy Taylor should know. Kelly was drafted by the Rams in the sixth round last year and saw some playing time towards the end of last season when Todd Gurley was injured. He underwhelmed this preseason, but reuniting with Taylor could be good for him.
Jeremy McNichols: Since being drafted in the fifth round by the Buccaneers in 2017, McNicholas has been on three other teams. He has most recently been with the Titans, who were already set at the position. McNicholas eclipsed 100 rushing yards this preseason with an average of 4.2 yards per carry, and is also great friends with John Ross III.
Wendell Smallwood: Speaking of teams with stacked backfields, the Eagles are no exception, which is why Smallwood is available. The former fifth-round pick had been with the Eagles since 2016 and has over 850 career yards on 211 attempts.
Devine Ozigbo: Ozigbo had a great case to get drafted this year but slipped through the cracks where the Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent. His 92 yards on just 21 carries from this preseason should allow him to get another opportunity somewhere else.
Erik Magnuson: Originally with the 49ers for the first two years of his career, Magnuson has played every position on the offensive line except for left tackle. The Bills brought him in late this offseason but he ended up playing in just one game this preseason. He’s talented enough to stick around somewhere eventually.
Josh Wells: Wells had been a backup swing tackle for the Jaguars since they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of James Madison in 2014. He’s never been good enough to start outright, but he’s stayed around this long for a reason. If the Bengals want to go after a more seasoned veteran, Wells seems like the best bet.
Justin Murray: A few months after Zac Taylor took over as UC’s offensive coordinator in 2016, Murray left the Bearcats for the NFL and the Raiders. The former undrafted free agent has stuck around in Oakland ever since, but now needs a new team. One of Taylor’s assistants, Doug Rosfeld, is familiar with Murray as he was hired as UC’s Director of Player Development before Murray’s last year with the team.
Pace Murphy: Murphy was a member of the Rams’ offensive line back when Taylor the one assistant wide receivers coach in 2017. The Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and he’s been with the 49ers and most recently the Chiefs since he left Los Angeles after 2017.
Paul Adams: Adams was an underrated draft prospect from this year’s class. The former Missouri Tiger played in three of the Giants’ preseason games, having just missed their Week 3 matchup against the Bengals. He put in plenty of solid work at left tackle for them this month.
Dakota Allen: Another now former Ram, Allen was Los Angeles’ seventh-round pick this past April and was a top-10 graded linebacker by PFF for rookies with at least 100 snaps logged this preseason (75.4). Allen was a surprise cut, but can now help the Bengals in a big way.
Josiah Tauaefa: Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo had just left the Giants before they signed Tauaefa this offseason as an undrafted free agent, but he already looks like a playmaker. Against the Bengals in Week 3, Tauaefa recorded three defensive stops despite playing just 20 snaps. Though he hasn’t played as much as Allen, his PFF grade (85.7) is a little bit higher.
Calvin Munson: As an undrafted rookie in 2017, Munson played over 200 special teams snaps for the Giants. He missed all of the 2018 regular season but was picked up this offseason by the Patriots, where he continued to put out solid special teams tape.
Skai Moore: Moore underwhelmed last season for the Colts as a reserve, and his second preseason with the team was not enough to keep him around. Regardless, he was a talented college player from two years ago that may have more to offer.
Te’Von Coney: The Bengals used a top-30 draft visit this past spring on Coney, but the former Notre Dame linebacker went undrafted and signed with the Raiders. Now, Coney’s available once more and the Bengals could use him.