Organized team activities have begun around the National Football League. They are the first real steps we see of our 2017 teams taking shape. Coaches start to gauge position groups. Rookies, hopefully, make good first impressions. Bloggers will come at you with their take on who will have a big year based on that one-handed catch they made yesterday.
And, of course, we discuss the depth chart. In fact, that’s one of the reasons were so excited about the Cincinnati Bengals this season. A few of the right players in the two-deep can be the key toward improving last year’s 6-9-1 season. That could easily mean playoffs, baby!
Let’s look at each offensive position group for the Cincinnati Bengals for 2017.
Quarterback: Starter – Andy Dalton. Backups – AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel. Dalton is the clear-cut starter if he can stay injury-free. If he goes down, we think McCarron can do a serviceable job.
Running back: Starter – Jeremy Hill. Backups – Giovani Bernard, Joe Mixon, Cedric Peerman, Tra Carson, Jarveon Williams, Stanley Williams. Hill and Bernard are capable, and the newly drafted Mixon adds power and speed.
Fullback: Starter – Darrin Laufasa. He has a great FB frame at 6’1 and 250 pounds. He also blocked for running back Aaron Jones, who rushed for 1,773 yards at UTEP last fall, so Cincy is in good hands here we think if they decide to keep a true fullback.
Wide receiver 1: Starter – AJ Green. Backups – Cody Core, Josh Malone, Jake Kumerow, Alonzo Russell. Green returns from injury and, we think, will have a typically big year. It didn’t take long for the team to sign Josh Malone, so he’ll be able to start learning the offense and adjusting to the speed of the pro game.
Wide receiver 2: Starter – Brandon LaFell. Backups – Tyler Boyd, Chris Brown, Monty Madaris. LaFell had 64 catches and six TDs last year. Boyd went over 600 yards receiving. The WR2 spot looks solid.
Slot receiver : Starter – John Ross. Backups – Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, Karel Hamilton. With the addition of Ross, this position could see a big boost, which opens up the offense. We put Boyd here as well as we think he will get chances in the slot as well.
Tight end/H-back: Starter – Tyler Eifert. Backups – Tyler Kroft, Ryan Hewitt, C.J. Uzomah, Mason Schreck, Cethan Carter. Hopefully, Eifert can stay healthy this year. Kroft was only targeted 12 times last season, but made 10 catches, throw in Uzomah who shined at times last season and Hewitt who has shown he is capable and the Bengals should be fine at this position.
Center: Starter – Russell Bodine. Backups – TJ Johnson, JJ Dielman. Bodine, a fourth-year player out of North Carolina, is getting better every year.
Left guard: Starter – Clint Boling. Backups – Trey Hopkins, Dustin Stanton. Boling played 73 straight games from 2012-2016 and had a separated shoulder for much of last season, and gutted it out. Toughness, much?
Right guard: Starter – Andre Smith. Backups – Christian Westerman, Alex Redmond, Kent Perkins. It’s a tall order to replace Kevin Zeitler. Hopefully, Christian Westerman will bring his A-game in 2017 and Andre Smith might start here if Westerman doesn’t outshine him.
Right tackle: Starter – Jake Fisher. Backups – Eric Winston, Landon Lechler. Fisher has experience with all five position on the offensive line. We hope said line gels and he can stick to this spot
Left tackle: Starter – Cedric Ogbuehi. Backups – Andre Smith. Let’s pray Ogbuehi improves.