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MAILBAG: Reactions to the projected 53-man roster

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Why did we go in the direction that we did? You asked/debated and we're responding (in a mailbag format).

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

+ Talking the tenth defensive back

If the Bengals do keep 6 CB (which I don't see happening), I wouldn't count out Troy Hill. Big playmaker in college, and arguably more upside than either Lewis-Harris or Ghee.

Balco

Let's face facts... we're talking about the tenth defensive back; who probably isn't active on the team's 46-man gameday roster. You have to factor several things here: Cincinnati's depth at safety is very inexperienced (I would add weak). Can l Cincinnati's cornerbacks transition into safety if the need surfaced? If one of the team's cornerbacks departs for safety, now ask yourself who can step into a role as an experienced cornerback... and play special teams? Ghee has. Who knows about Hill, whom the Bengals signed as a college free agent following the 2015 NFL draft. I'm not even sure if he was mentioned on any OTA post-practice reports.

That's not to say he couldn't rise. Hill, from Youngstown, Ohio, posted an interception, a forced fumble, 59 tackles and 16 passes defensed in 2014. Our own Anthony Cosenza interviewed Hill during the NFLPA Bowl game following Ohio State's win during the National Championship game. "When you go back in his history you find out that he's always had a chip on his shoulder and that is what fuels him. He uses it to be a better football player," said one NFC director of scouting, via Hill's draft page at NFL.com. "There are some maturity issues with him that concern me though." Hill was suspended at the end of 2013 for a domestic "incident" and pleaded "down to misdemeanor menacing and was ordered to take anger control classes."

Could Hill be a factor? Who knows?

I have a hard time seeing Ghee make the roster. But they have held on to CLH for years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept him as the #6CB and tried to hide Hill on the PS.
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Animal_Like_Football

I mostly agree. We're talking about an insignificant part of Cincinnati's roster. I would add that while the Bengals "held onto" Chris Lewis-Harris for years, they did the same with Brandon Ghee. Ghee spent his rookie season rehabilitating from concussion issues, but was later placed on season-ending IR with a groin injury. Despite overcoming a collection of training camp injuries, he spent the first half of 2011 on the practice squad. He was promoted to the 53-man roster for the second-half of the season but unfortunately suffered a season-ending wrist injury during training camp in 2013. Yet, he's back. Again. And again, and again. Lewis-Harris, entering his fourth season with the Bengals, has mostly been healthy during his 12-game career.

+ The Sixth Receiver

Not that I have anything against Alford. But personally, I would definitely list Wright and Moore ahead of him, and I doubt I’m alone on that. I would say that Alford and Tate are battling for the 6th and final spot, not just for receiving purposes but also in the kick/punt return game.

Balco

Well, this wasn't designed to project the actual depth chart -- just the 53-man roster. That being said, coaches and teammates began drinking the Kool-Aid nearly the instant he joined Cincinnati as a former seventh-rounder.

Alford

During the first week of OTAs, ESPN NFL writer Coley Harvey wrote that "quarterback Andy Dalton let go of a tight-spiraled deep ball toward the left pylon. At first glance, you had to wonder if the receiver would catch up to the ball. But then that's when you only needed to look across the field and see who the player was chasing after the pass. It was rookie Mario Alford, arguably the fastest receiver the Bengals have and one of this draft class' most explosive players."

Moore didn't make that much of an impression and Wright sat for most practices to rehabilitate his PCL. The sixth spot could come down to Alford and Brandon Tate -- I just believe that there's greater upside with Alford.

Then there's Jackson's reverence for speed over everything else. "The biggest threat is vertical speed, not size," Jackson said last January. "If I’m faster than you, but you’re taller than me, I’m eventually going to find a way to get away from you. There are guys that make contested catches, but the common thread for success is speed. You’re not going to get open all the time, so you have to make contested catches. But you also have to be able to create separation so the quarterback can feel comfortable throwing it in there."

Get over it guys. Hunt was never going to make it.
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Evil Monkey

Even if Hunt makes the 53-man roster, he'll be the fifth defensive end by the time he's healthy. He'll be relegated to the same inconsistent playing time that's conclusively hindering his development. Maybe he makes the practice squad, but aren't you delaying the inevitable by hanging onto an athletically freakish player who might lack the disposition to become monstrously effective on defense? Everyone likes Hunt, but does keeping him on the 53-man roster make sense at this stage?

On the other hand, I'll give Hunt the benefit of doubt. Anyone with as much inconsistent laying time as he will struggle to develop. In two seasons with the Bengals, Hunt has played 352 snaps on defense. Yet he's accumulated 233 pass rushes and generated 18 pressures and 1.5 quarterback sacks in his career. Let's compare Hunt's first two seasons with Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson:

Compare Hunt, MJ, CD

Lack of playing time? Or has Hunt simply failed to present a reasonable argument for more playing time?