The NFL Draft is huge, but it is not the only way for a player to get into the league.
The Cincinnati Bengals added a number of other rookies through free agency. These undrafted free agents will have an uphill battle to make the team, but the Bengals found a few with big potential.
Let’s take a look at the Bengals’ 2022 offensive UDFAs.
I was a big fan of Ben Brown as a prospect— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) June 22, 2022
I think he’s got a real chance to stick around #55 pic.twitter.com/jpoAfxtbOc
Ben Brown – offensive guard/center – 6’5” 312 - Ole Miss
Ben Brown was one of my favorite Day 3 interior offensive line targets, and the Bengals managed to get him without using a pick.
Brown is excellent in pass protection. He has good feet and picks up both blitzes and twists nicely. He gets movement in the run game, but leans on the defender at times, and can lose his balance as a result. This is something that can be fixed with hard work and good coaching.
In the clip above, he shows off his pass protection skills. He kicks out wide from his right guard position, picking up the defensive end who has stunted into the B-gap. As the defender tries to get by him to both the inside and the outside, Brown keeps his feet moving and stays between the defender and the quarterback.
The Bengals have a lot of young talent on the interior line, but Brown could very much be in the mix for a roster spot. He may find himself in direct completion with second-year center Trey Hill to back up Ted Karras at center.
Shermari Jones – running back – 6’ 215 - Coastal Carolina
The Bengals found a lot of talent when they visited Coastal Carolina this year. Not only did they draft Jeffery Gunter, they acquired two of his teammates as undrafted free agents.
Shermari Jones is a true one-cut, downhill runner. He runs with power and high-steps over defenders who try to take him on low. His jump cuts are phenomenal, and often kick-start a big play. That is exactly what happens in this clip.
Jones jump cuts in the backfield, then he gets immediately downhill. He hurdles one defender who is foolish enough to dive for his feet. Two more defenders have a chance to make the stop. He sets up the first one to the inside, before juking outside. The second one he simply outruns to the end zone.
Jones has some skill as a runner, but his ability to make this team will likely come down to pass protection and special teams. He will need to shine in at least one of those areas during training camp.
Jaivon Heiligh – wide receiver – 6’ 202- Coastal Carolina
Another Chanticleer, Jaivon Heiligh is an excellent contested-catch wide receiver. He makes great adjustments and can go up with any defender and come down with the ball. He is super-shifty and can shake defenders to get open and pick up extra yards once the ball is in his hands.
In this clip, Heiligh hauls in the pass and makes a quick cut to get past the defender for a touchdown. He can play on the outside, but projects best as a backup to Tyler Boyd in the slot.
Kwamie Lassiter II – wide receiver – 5’10” 185 - Kansas
The wide receiver with the most buzz after OTA’s is Kwamie Lassiter. He is a shifty receiver who will likely be a slot in the NFL. He has some experience as a punt-returner, which may be of interest to special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, a fellow for Jayhawk.
In this clip, he lines up outside and flies by the cornerback. He is able to make the catch between two defenders. Lassiter will need to stand out on special teams. It could be his ability to return punts that secures him a roster spot, but it will be an uphill battle to win the staff’s trust and win the punt returner job.
Devin Cochran - offensive tackle – 6’7” 306 – Georgia Tech
Devin Cochran posted excellent testing numbers, but he does not always move well on the field. He gets off balance in the run game and struggles to adjust and move laterally in pass protection.
In this clip, he kicks steps out to pick up the blitz, showcasing his athletic talent.
Cochran is a project, but his size and athleticism make him worth taking a good look at. His physical gifts make him a prime practice squad candidate.
Desmond Noel – offensive guard - 6’ 3” 301 – Florida Atlantic
Colerain High School graduate Desmond Noel returns home to Cincinnati.
Although Noel’s testing was good, but not great, his athleticism stands out on film He moves well both in small spaces and the open field. In pass protection, he adjusts and picks up blocks as the defensive line moves. In the run game, he is best when he is on the move, pulling or climbing to the second level to make blocks.
The Owls run a screen in this clip, and Noel does an excellent job of releasing and demolishing his man.
Noel is an interesting prospect who could have a chance at making the practice squad.
Kendric Pryor – wide receiver - 5’10” 183 - Wisconsin
Kendric Prior makes some excellent adjustments, contorting his body in all sorts of ways to come down with the ball. He is undersized, but tested very well in both the vertical jump and long jump. Although his timed speed is nothing to get excited about, Wisconsin often used him on end-arounds, and he did very well, averaging over ten yards-per-carry for his career.
In this clip, he drags his feet to make an excellent sideline catch. With a lot of competition at the position, Pryor will need to find a way to standout in order to stick around, but there is something intriguing about his game.
Justin Rigg - tight end – 6-5 - 259 Kentucky
Justin Rigg has excellent size and can get some movement as a blocker. His best asset is his ability to block in space, whether it be on a toss, a screen, or simply climbing to the second level to block a linebacker.
He is reliable, but not flashy as a pass-catcher, as you can see in this clip. Rigg sneaks into the flat to make the touchdown catch.
Rigg will compete for a role on the practice squad.
Jack Sorenson – wide receiver – 6’ 189 - Miami (Ohio)
Jack Sorenson has excellent concentration and makes a lot of catches in traffic. He does not have great speed and as a result he does not have a lot of yards after the catch. He is often able to get open, finding and sitting in holes in the secondary. Although he makes a lot of contested catches, he rarely does so by out-jumping the defender.
In this clip, he makes a really nice adjustment to bring the ball in. The defender cannot keep his feet and Sorenson turns up field for the touchdown.
The Bengals brought in a lot of wide receives, so Sorenson will have his work cut out for him as he tries to make the cut.