July 25, 2017

James Urban’s Shoes

James Urban, the Bengals’ wide receivers coach, has either the most fun or the most frustrating job of all the position coaches. The potential warehoused in the 12 players entrusted to his care is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, most of that potential has been minimally tested or completely untested at the pro level, leaving him and Marvin with the difficult job of cutting down this crew, with the potency of the entire offense hinging on the decisions.

Since most of us have an opinion on who we would like to see be the six receivers to make the roster, let’s slip on Urban’s shoes and take a whack at the cut down. I went back and found the stats on each guy from his performance at either the Combine or his Pro Day. I included A.J. Green’s stats simply as a point of reference.

A.J. Green 6’4″ 211 lb 34 3/8″ 9 1/4″ 4.50 s 34 1/2″ 10’6″ 6.91 s 4.21 s
Brandon Tate 6’1″ 195 lb     Did not participate (knee injury)
Jordan Shipley 5’11” 193 lb 30 1/2″ 9 5/8″ 4.60 s 36 1/2″ 9’8″
Ryan Whalen 6’1″ 202 lb 30″ 9″ 4.62 s 38 1/2″ 10’3″ 6.67 s 4.09 s
Andrew Hawkins 5’8″ 182 lb     4.34 s 38″ 9’6″ 6.81 s 4.03 s
Armon Binns 6’3″ 209 lb 32 1/2″ 9 1/2″ 4.53 s 31 1/2″ 9’10” 6.86 s 4.31 s
Vidal Hazelton 6’2″ 209 lb     4.62 s 33 1/2″ 10’1″ 6.72 s 4.19 s
Marvin Jones 6’2″ 199 lb 33 1/8″ 10 1/4″ 4.46 s 33″ 9’2″ 6.81 s 4.11 s
Mohamed Sanu 6’2″ 211 lb 33 1/2″ 10 1/8″ 4.67 s 36″ 10’6″ 6.88 s 4.22 s
Kashif Moore 5’9″ 180 lb 31″ 9 5/8″ 4.42 s 43 1/2″ 10’6″ 6.82 s 4.05 s
Taveon Rogers 5’11” 190 lb     4.33 s 33 1/2″ 10’4″ 6.96 s 4.42 s
Justin Hilton 6’2″ 191 lb     4.52 s 33 1/2″ 9’8″ 6.87 s 4.26 s


Of course, the featured bout on this card pits Brandon Tate against Armon Binns. Not having seen either running as a receiver, it is difficult to know who has the edge. What we do know is that 1) Binns has the advantage of size and 2) Tate has the advantage of experience. Neither has a large advantage over the other, however, meaning that they will get plenty of scrutiny in camp.

My interest is drawn to the looming battle between Jordan Shipley and Mohamed Sanu. Shipley had an impressive rookie campaign in 2010, grabbing an even 600 yds in the shadow of the TOcho show. [Shudder.] But take a look at the difference in arm and hands size. Sanu brings from college the rep of hauling in anything close to him, a trait that continued into OTAs. This fight will go deep into camp… assuming that the medical staff does not put Shipley on PUP before camp. That would not be a popular move among some, but it could also be viewed as hiding an ace of the sleeve, waiting to be played in Week 7.

If Shipley hits the PUP list, Sanu’s primary competition will come from Ryan Whalen, who drew a fair amount of praise during OTAs. Andrew Luck’s former target has good field quickness as well as a year in Gruden’s system.

I am not sure who his direct competitor is, but the guy I see backing up A.J. Green is Marvin Jones. His combination of size and speed are just sick, begging for a spot on the roster because he won’t make it to the practice squad.

The final battle, one that hasn’t really been on my radar, is between Andrew Hawkins, Kashif Moore and Taveon Rogers. All three are a bit under-sized but extremely fast. I have been inclined to just assume that Hawkins will emerge as the victor here. The winner here will be the 6th receiver, playing mainly on special teams (where Hawkins was a big factor). But am I being premature? Maybe this is not such a slam dunk for the fan favorite?

Here is where Urban’s shoes meet the road. Weigh in on these questions and let me know how you would handle the cut down, given what we know right now.

#1) Should Jordan Shipley go on the PUP list before camp starts?

#2) With Green as the #1, who are your starting #2 and primary slot receivers?

#3) Who are your three backup receivers? And who do you sign to the practice squad?

#4) Who gets left out and why?


  1. What is it with the lack of Andrew Hawkins love? This is killin’ me. The dude was money all season, and converted more 3rd downs that anyone. His speed and quickness are huge and he did all that with Jay Gruden having limited time to develop plays to showcase his talents.

    I don’t see how Hawkins doesn’t make this team, and contribute. Sanu, Jones, Binns and Tate all sound nice and have good size, but I’ve actually SEEN baby hawk produce–plenty.

  2. 1) I would love Shipley to come back but all the talk about his progress seems to beat around the bush. Everyone is being too careful not to say whether he will or will not be back. This makes me think…no, he won’t. He’ll be on PUP.

    2) Binns is the #2 and Sanu gets the slot.

    3) Hawkins, Jones and Whalen make the team. Hazelton and Moore make the practice squad.

    4) Tate doesn’t make it because we get Adam Jones, Benard Scott or Andrew Hawkins to do the returns. Rogers doesn’t make it because he’s an average guy in a sea of growing recievers.