NFL Cincinnati Bengals

NFL: Predicting the Cincinnati Bengals 53-Man Roster for 2013

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NFL 2013: Predicting the Cincinnati Bengals 53-Man Roster

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals were one of the laughingstocks of the NFL for the better part of 20 years, but they have now made two consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1982. But the result was the same each time, losing to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round.

The Bengals entered the offseason without any glaring holes to fill on their roster, but the addition of running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert with their first two picks in April’s draft help an offense that was 22nd in the league in total yardage in 2012 (332.7 yards per game). Adding weapons around third-year signal caller Andy Dalton should help the team take the next step in 2013.

Cincinnati was able to retain most of their own free agents, re-signing notable players like offensive tackle Andre Smith and linebacker Ray Maualuga while using the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson.

Marvin Lewis, who is one of the longest tenured head coaches in the NFL, has two of the top coordinators in the league around him in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Both have been popular head coaching candidates over the last couple offseasons, so 2013 may be the final year for the Bengals to make a postseason run with their current coaching staff in place.

As the Bengals look to build on their recent success and win a playoff game, here’s how I think their 53-man roster will look for Week 1 against the Chicago Bears.

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Quarterbacks (3)

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Andy Dalton

Josh Johnson

John Skelton

Dalton’s progress in his third season is the biggest key to any success the team has in 2013. Johnson and Skelton are upgrades behind him, but if either has to play a lot Cincinnati’s playoff hopes would quickly dwindle.

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Running Backs (6)

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Giovani Bernard

Rex Burkhead

Cedric Peerman

Chris Pressley (FB)

John Conner (FB)

The Bengals needed to bolster their depth behind Green-Ellis, which they accomplished by making Bernard the first running back drafted in April and then using a sixth-round pick on Burkhead.

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Wide Receivers (6) and Tight Ends (3)

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Wide Receivers:

A.J. Green

Mohamed Sanu

Andrew Hawkins

Marvin Jones

Cobi Hamilton

Brandon Tate

Finding a complement to Green on the outside has been a struggle, though Hawkins had some good moments in 2012 on his way to 51 catches.

Tight Ends:

Jermaine Gresham

Tyler Eifert

Orson Charles

The Bengals used their first-round pick (21st overall) on Eifert, and he and Gresham now form arguably one of the top tight end duos in the league.

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Offensive Lineman (9)

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Andrew Whitworth (OT)

Andre Smith (OT)

Clint Boling (OG)

Kevin Zeitler (OG)

Trevor Robinson (C)

Travelle Wharton (OG)

Kyle Cook (C)

Reid Fragel (OT)

Dennis Roland (OT)

This unit was hampered by injuries in 2012, and allowed the seventh-most sacks in the league (46). Better health, and improvement from Dalton in terms of how long he holds onto the ball, should significantly lower that number in 2013.

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Defensive Lineman (8)

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Geno Atkins (DT)

Michael Johnson (DE)

Carlos Dunlap (DE)

Domata Peko (DT)

Margus Hunt (DE)

Devon Still (DT)

Robert Geathers (DE)

Brandon Thompson (DT)

Cincinnati had the third-most sacks in the NFL last season (51), spearheaded by Atkins (12.5 sacks), Johnson (11.5) and Dunlap (6.0). Adding a player with the physical tools of Hunt should only help what may be the most talented position group on the Bengals’ roster.

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Linebackers (7)

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Ray Maualuga

Vontaze Burfict

James Harrison

Sean Porter

Dontay Moch

Aaron Maybin

Vincent Rey

Burfict was a pleasant surprise in 2012, going from undrafted to the being the team’s leading tackler. It will be interesting to see how much Harrison has left, and Porter be an instant difference maker as a rookie.

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Defensive Backs (8)

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Leon Hall (CB)

Dre Kirkpatrick (CB)

Terence Newman (CB)

Adam Jones (CB)

Shawn Williams (S)

Reggie Nelson (S)

George Iloka (S)

Taylor Mays (S)

Kirkpatrick only played five games as a rookie last season due to multiple injuries, but if he can stay healthy he and Hall could become one of the top cornerback tandems in the league. Williams, a third-round pick in April, is likely to start at strong safety immediately.

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Specialists (3)

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Placekicker: Mike Nugent

Punter: Kevin Huber

Long Snapper: Clark Harris

Nugent missed the end of last season with a calf injury, and went 19-for-23 on field goals over 12 games. Huber set a career high in average yards per punt in 2012 (46.6).