Every year a preseason hero seems to emerge from Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp. Often times they don’t end up making a notable impact if they make the final roster, but sometimes they matriculate into a solid contributor.
Count fourth-year receiver Alex Erickson as a member of the latter category. Since wowing everyone back in the 2016 preseason, he has become a core special teams player and a spot guy on offense.
Unfortunately for Erickson, his opportunities on offense were extremely limited under Marvin Lewis and Co. But, with new coach Zac Taylor entering the picture, some believe he can be a solid receiving option for the club this season.
Why he could break out in 2019
Many believe that Taylor will bring similar innovation and diverse schemes to Cincinnati from Los Angeles. With these plans come the need for multiple, able receiving threats.
A couple of months ago, it became public news that Erickson was a quietly-hot commodity in the league, with teams giving trade offers to Cincinnati for his services. The Bengals turned down those offers—either because they weren’t lucrative enough, or because the new regime has high hopes for him in 2019. Perhaps it’s both.
Erickson has a 71.7% catch rate from his targets and exactly half of his 38 career receptions (19) have moved the sticks for a first down. These aren’t numbers to make one pop out of their chair with excitement, but the needle could be pointing up in a critical year for Erickson’s career.
What he needs to prove
As mentioned above, Erickson has just 38 catches in his career. The people talking about a Cooper Kupp-like year from him in this new offense would be wise to temper expectations—at least initially.
In limited opportunities, Erickson has showed a penchant for having reliable hands and to move the chains. However, small sample sizes provide large risks.
What if a more extended route tree is asked of Erickson in 2019? Will he still be able to be a weapon as a return man, if given more responsibilities on offense? With so many other weapons still on offense, will he even be given a higher amount of targets?
These are all important questions, but we could see a sizable leap from Erickson in 2019.
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