A rather interesting training camp battle became a bit more interesting this week. The Bengals signed WR Rashaun Simonise from the University of Calgary after he went unselected in the Supplemental Draft. Simonise was in the Supplemental Draft because he was ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming Canadian college season.
Simonise is a rather intriguing prospect, who drew some interest from NFL teams heading into the Supplemental Draft. Look at Simonise’s size and you can see why he was on the NFL radar. The WR stands a rather impressive 6’5” and weighs 200 pounds, and still runs a 4.46 40. What’s not to like? Looking at his production, Simonise posted some rather impressive numbers last season. During his junior year up north, he had 1,079 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns … in just eight games. You read that right, eight games! I wasn’t a math major, but some quick punching on a calculator shows that is an average of roughly 135 yards per game.
Size, speed, production – but I do have a couple of issues. I’m concerned about the academic ineligibility … but the Bengals have done well of late with player that may have some issues. My other concern is the strength of the defenses the University of Calgary Dinos faced. This league isn’t known as a defensive juggernaut; but, I’m not willing to throw out his production because the competition may not have been the best.
To calm my worries, I decided to watch a little film on the newest addition to the Bengals. Color me impressed – and probably not for the reason you expect. Let’s deal with the obvious first, he has very good hands and uses every bit of his 6’5” frame and his long arms to make catches. He uses his speed to get good separation from the DBs (making them look like they’re standing still at times) and if he gets in the open field, he’s gone. He is an absolute weapon downfield; but, he runs an outstanding hitch route and does a good job on underneath crossing routes (look back to his 2014 film to see an outstanding underneath cross where he goes 55 yards for a rather impressive TD).
So, the Bengals are adding a very good receiver – but let’s get to the reason I really like this kid: downfield blocking. He uses all of his size to demolish DB after his teammates have either caught a ball or broken into the open field on a run. On his 2014 film, there’s clip after clip of him destroying poor unsuspecting DBs – and I love it. That physicality will help him get playing time on the NFL level.
Where does he fit with the Bengals? That 6’5” frame sure would look good lined up on the opposite side of the 6’4” AJ Green. This would draw him coverage from the off corner, and could get him favorable one on ones with a player who isn’t as tall or quick as him. What about the slot? The way he runs underneath routes combined with good speed and hands would make him a matchup nightmare on LBs in coverage.
Bottom line: I really like this signing. Having a stable of tall, fast, productive receivers is a luxury in the NFL – and Marvin Lewis’s team is slowly building such a stable. Simonise is going to come in and challenge for a roster spot right away. He could easily make this team and fight for a good portion of playing time.