September 24, 2014

The 2011 Bengals: WR

A little time off was chicken soup for the soul, but I am back to continue my quest to review each position group for the Bengals before we launch into free agency, whenever that may be. Today, I am looking at the WRs.

Last season, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco were overhyped, past-their-prime players that had a few good moments but disappeared at times, pouted too much, and didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. I am over both of these guys, and while T.O. is a free agent and won’t be back, Chad is under contract for one more season. That said, I can’t imagine the team bringing him back to work with first round pick AJ Green. The young guys showed some promise, especially Jerome Simpson, who posted back to back 100 yard games and three touchdowns to close out the season. Rookie WR Jordan Shipley seems to be primed to work the slot. Andre Caldwell didn’t have a great season after emerging as a threat in 2009, but he did make some plays in the final three games. Other returning players are Quan Cosby and Shay Hodge, who was an all-SEC performer in 2009 for Ole’ Miss that the Bengals signed off of waivers. In addition to Green, we drafted Stanford WR Ryan Whalen in the seventh round.

Best case scenario: Green is a stud, Simpson and Caldwell emerge as consistent threats, and Shipley continues to progress.

Worst case scenario: Green is another in a long line of first round busts at WR, no one else steps up, and the team has to rely solely on the ground attack in a brutal division.

Another Possibility: It seems unlikely, but maybe Chad stays around for the final year of his contract and the presence of Green raises his level of play to what it used to be.

Outlook: I didn’t love the pick of AJ Green, but I am warming to it. Chad’s antics surely have finally caught up with him, and all indications are that Green will actually put in more effort than talk. Plus, it’s a good omen that Green was #1 on Atlanta’s wish list. Still, if I were the GM I would have taken the trade that Cleveland eventually got and addressed more need areas in this draft and the next. Simpson and Caldwell are both in the final year of their rookie deals and should be motivated. I think we have a good, young nucleus at the position but a lot is riding on unproven players. Hopefully a guy or two will emerge quickly and we will put the T.Ocho fiasco behind us for good.