American Football

Day 3 offensive options for the Bengals


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How can the Bengals improve their offense on Day 3?

Will the Cincinnati Bengals ever draft an offensive player again?

Here are some they should consider.

Running Backs

Well, Roschon Johnson is still around.

Johnson is not only a powerful runner with breakaway speed, but he can also catch and protect the passer. This could be key for the Bengals after losing Samaje Perine in free agency.

Johnson can fill Perine’s role in the offense but is a more explosive player who could earn a larger workload. He also comes into the NFL with relatively fresh legs, having been a complement to Robinson at Texas.

Israel Abanikanda is still around too?

The Pitt running back scored 20 rushing touchdowns last season, including three runs of over 66 yards. The main complaint about him is his contact balance, which is to say he goes down too easily.

I believe this is something that can be fixed with coaching, and at 215, he should be able to develop into a more powerful runner. His size also gives him a high ceiling as a pass protector, giving him the potential to develop into an every-down back.

Chris Rodriguez reminds me a lot of Devin Singletary. The UK running back doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he does a lot of things very well. He has the size to be a powerful runner and a good pass protector. Rodriguez was also underutilized as a receiver and has good hands. He is a suitable replacement for Samaje Perine and likely an upgrade.

Northwestern’s Evan Hull has the speed and versatility to be a nice piece of an NFL offense. He’s a bigger guy who runs like a little guy, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing in that he is very shifty and makes some nice cuts. It is a bad thing because he doesn’t power through defenders the way you’d like. He also brings value as a receiver, and his best role may be as a 3rd-down back.

Deneric Prince’s size and speed combination is extremely hard to find on Day 3 of the draft. The Tulsa ball carrier does not show great vision and will need work in pass protection. The raw ingredients of an NFL star are there, and Prince could surprise a lot of people. This is a massive projection, but he is a worthy project for running backs coach Justin Hill.

East Carolina Pirate Keaton Mitchell is very much undersized, making it a big surprise that the Bengals met with him. He is a very exciting offensive weapon with blazing speed. He would not be the primary back but could provide a fun and interesting change of pace.

Tight Ends

Clemson’s Davis Allen could be an excellent fit for the Bengals offensively. He is not a dynamic athlete but is excellent in contested situations and shows great ball skills. He has never dropped more than one pass in a single season.

Allen spent a lot of time spread out as a wide receiver and will need to develop as a blocker, but shows promise in this area. He was a team captain and never missed a game due to injury. Allen could really thrive in the Bengals’ offense.

Zack Kuntz is 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds and can jump out of the gym. He turned heads with his performance at the NFL Combine, making scouts drool thinking about what he could develop into. Unfortunately, his explosiveness in the workouts has not been demonstrated on the field.

Kuntz couldn’t crack the lineup at Penn State and transferred to Old Dominion. He failed to dominate at that level the way an athlete like that should. He missed half of his final season with a dislocated kneecap and only totaled 88 receptions for 862 yards and 7 touchdowns in his 18 games at ODU.

I have never lived in Cincinnati, nor do I have any connection to the University of Cincinnati. So it is without bias that I say Josh Whyle is the most underrated tight end in this class. He’s just a solid all-around player who can line up in a variety of positions and be effective as both a blocker and a receiver. Whyle was also a team captain who earned the respect of his teammates.

Brayden Willis was not only a captain, he was described by coaches as the top leader on the Oklahoma team. He is an excellent blocker who gets movement in the running game. Though limited athletically, he brings in passes effectively with his big mitts. In addition to his offensive contributions, Willis was an impactful special teams player for the Sooners over the course of his career.

Purdue’s Payne Durham is another physical blocker who will help a team’s run game and could be an excellent complement to a receiving tight end. He is a limited athlete, who will not be a regular force in the passing game, but he can step up and make a play when he needs to.

Will Mallory is the exact opposite. The Miami Hurricane does not give you much in terms of blocking, but he is dangerous running vertically in the seams. Mallory is from a football family and grew up knowing the expectations that come with playing the game at this level. His grandfather, Bill, was the longtime head coach at the University of Indiana. His father, Mike, has several years of NFL coaching experience. He also has an uncle who has NFL coaching experience and another who is the head coach at Indiana State.

Wide Receiver

Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry would add yet another deep threat to an already potent Bengals offense. He has the speed to get open on vertical routes versus man coverage, and the awareness to find openings against zone coverages.

Xavier Hutchinson is an excellent athlete and an even better route runner who has been extremely productive for the Iowa State Cyclones. He has played largely on the outside but projects as a versatile player who could take over for Tyler Boyd in the slot someday, as well as contributing as an outside receiver.

This draft is full of talented receivers who are either sub 5’10” or sub 185 pounds, but Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters personally attended Princeton’s pro day to see 6’3” 200 Andrei Iosivas. Iosivas ran a 4.43 and was productive with 107 receptions for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two seasons in the Ivy League. Despite his size, he is not very impressive as a blocker, but he has the speed to pressure a defense vertically.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton is the definition of a size/speed prospect. He has the speed to destroy pursuit angles, but his route-running is extremely raw. He has great size and has made some impressive catches in contested situations, but his hands are unreliable overall. Ford-Wheaton has the potential to be a dangerous offensive weapon, but it will likely be a very frustrating process to watch. He could benefit from being in a strong receiver room like Cincinnati’s, where there is a lot of leadership but little pressure for him to make an immediate contribution.

Offensive Line

Adding the 6-foot-8 374 Dawand Jones opposite the 6-foot-8 345-pound Orlando Brown Jr. would certainly change the look of the Bengals’ offensive line. The Ohio State tackle is a monster who gets movement and is surprisingly light on his feet in the run game.

His pass sets are a bit limited, but his bulk and length make up for that. Of course, his size could also be an issue, which is why Brown could be an excellent mentor for him on and off the field.

Nick Saldiveri played right tackle and guard at Old Dominion and shows the tools to be able to compete for a starting role at either spot. He is 6-foot-6, 318, and moves very well.

He has some glass eater in his game and knows how to finish blocks. Saldiveri needs to clean up some technique issues, particularly with his balance and hand placement in the run game, but these are things that can be taught.

If I were going to describe Georgia right tackle Warren McClendon in one word, it would be “reliable,” which is exactly what you want in an offensive lineman. He is much more consistent than other prospects. He has good feet and excellent anchor.

McClendon latches on to blocks and is unrelenting. He could be the answer the Bengals are looking for at right tackle.

BYU tackle Blake Freeland is very raw, but at 6-foot-7, 302 and running a 4.98 40, he has a lot of potential. He has the prototypical size and athletic ability but struggles with technique and leverage. He is probably not a guy who is going to come in and win the job in camp, but he could develop into something special.

We all hate injuries, but the Bengals have not been afraid of drafting injured players. USC guard Andrew Vorhees would not be around this late in the draft if it wasn’t for a torn ACL suffered during the pre-draft process. When he is healthy, he is an excellent pass protector with quick feet and hands. He could be an incredible value, if the team is willing to be patient.

UCLA’s Jon Gaines ran a 4.47 short shuttle at the NFL Combine, turning some heads with a stellar performance in this highly predictive metric.

This athleticism shows up on film as well, as does his power and anchor. His leverage can be inconsistent, and at times he gets ahead of himself and whiffs in space. Gaines also has experience at center, which would give him added value for the Bengals.

McClendon Curtis is a big man from a small school. The 364-pound Chattanooga product was a four-year starter at guard and tackle. He has excellent footwork and is a great anchor in pass protection. McClendon has the physical tools and smarts to compete for a starting role at either right tackle or left guard.

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