Last season was a long one for a Cincinnati Bengals team that had been to the playoffs the previous five years. What happened? A lot, but one of the problems was the loss of Muhammad Sanu and Marvin Jones. The Bengals did find solid replacements in draft pick Tyler Boyd and veteran Brandon LaFell, but then they loss A.J. Green for the final six games of the season. So have the Bengals improved at wide receiver? Let’s take a look.
As we mentioned, star wideout A.J. Green missed the last six games because of a hamstring injury, but he still amassed 66 catches for 964 yards and four touchdowns. The problem was that even when he was playing, the Bengals did not have a compliment to Green with the speed to stretch the field. It looks like the NFL Draft may have changed the problem for the Bengals. The Bengals in the first round added speedster John Ross from the University of Washington and Ross is not just a burner with his 4.2 speed, he also runs tremendous routes and is great at getting separation in the slot. Ross’ slight build does cause some concern with Bengals fans, but if he stays healthy the Bengals offense becomes very dangerous.
LaFell is a bigger number two receiver who after a slow start came on last year and turned into a solid receiver for the Bengals. Tyler Boyd is especially effective underneath against zone coverage and does possess speed, just not the type of speed John Ross has. Cody Core has tremendous upside and is a versatile receiver who is very physical, then you have Alex Erickson who came out of nowhere last year to make the team and became the lead kick returner for the Bengals. Josh Malone who the Bengals drafted out of Tennessee has the look of an NFL receiver, but I expect him to be a practice squad player this season.
Tyler Eifert is an elite-level tight end when he is healthy, the only problem is he has injury problems and missed eight games last year with a bad back. If he stays healthy the Bengals offense could be scary. C.J. Uzomah really improved a the season went on last year and I expect him to play well this season and Tyler Kroft is solid.
This is a definite strength on this team, now can Green and Eifert stay healthy? If they do the Bengals will have a top 5 receiving corps in 2017.
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