Geoff Hobson recently began an article summarizing the draft with a poignant little story.
Even before the Bengals started picking in the second round on Friday night, retiring Bengals director of football operations Jim Lippincott looked at the board and said to no one in particular, “Good luck cutting this team.”
As much as it can pain me to agree with Jim Lippincott, he is completely right. Competition in camp will be high, and deciding who to cut will not be simple decisions.
Look at the list of guys already on the roster, and you will see what I mean. I have not even included any UDFAs because the Bengals have not made their list of signees official yet. And after looking at this list, a UDFA is going to have to shine like Arian Foster to make the cut.
DEFENSIVE END. The Bengals typically keep four DEs. They have five on the roster, plus any UDFAs.
- Carlos Dunlap: undoubtedly on the roster. Has he advanced enough to start?
- Robert Geathers: the senior of the group going into his 9th season, there is an outside chance that he becomes expendable due to age and salary ($4.2M) if MJ, Anderson and Harvey all play up to their full potential.
- Michael Johnson: the most physically gifted DE behind Dunlap, but coaches were not happy with him and reduced his role last year. He has to change that, or he could find himself as the odd man out.
- Jamaal Anderson: the Falcons were not satisfied with what they got out of the #8 overall pick, but he seemed to be coming around last year in Indy as he learned behind two of the best in Freeney and Mathis. (I’m guessing he sticks.)
- Derrick Harvey: the guy with the longest odds to make the cut IMO, but his departure is not inevitable. If he can unearth the skill he had at Florida and show more heart than MJ, he will make the cut.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE. The Bengals typically keep five DTs and dress four on game day. They currently have six, plus any UDFAs.
- Geno Atkins: no question that he’s back.
- Devon Still: as a 2nd round pick, he will make the cut. Coaches need to make sure he keeps the fire in his belly.
- Brandon Thompson: as a 3rd round pick, he will also make the cut, although he is likely to be the odd man out on game days to begin the season as coaches work to bring up his pass rushing to match his stellar run blocking skills.
- Domata Peko: going into his 7th season, he has 3 years left on his deal. Could be his last year as a starter, though, if Still or Thompson come on fast?
- Pat Sims: the guy is a nice contributor. I am glad he is back for at least one more year, as he should make the cut.
- Nick Hayden: the guy likely to miss the roster, IMO. As a guy with 28 games played and 13 starts, would he really accept a spot on the practice squad?
There is significant talent for Jay Hayes and Mike Zimmer to groom. Regardless of which nine players make up the D-line in 2012, it should be a better group than it was in 2011. And that group wasn’t shabby.
Next, we will take a look at the defense’s back seven, which is a lot more crowded.