The Cincinnati Bengals are a team flush with young talent and early-career success, but also one stuck in limbo between legitimate contender and another team outside the discussion.
On the one hand, players like receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins are two players serving as arguably the NFL‘s best players at their respective position, while playing on the same team, and Cincy is coming off two consecutive playoff berths. This does not sound like a team in immediate need of major personnel changes in the near future.
However, the 2013 rookie class could end up making zero dents on the starting lineup by the time this offseason ends. Cincy has done a good job of remaining young at many positions, but apparently may not rush to start the big-name skill position players coming out of the early rounds of the draft for the Bengals.
Cincy’s third-round selection in the 2013 draft signed with the team this week, and probably possesses the best chance of trotting out with the starting lineup in Week 1.
“While this could be the first year since 2002 that the Bengals don’t have a rookie starting in the opener,” wrote Cincinnati.com’s Joe Reedy in a report about the signing of free safety Shawn Willliams. “After Williams would have the best chance barring injuries. With the starting spot opposite Reggie Nelson up for grabs, Williams is expected to compete with Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles.”
I don’t think starting tight end Tyler Eifert or halfback Gio Bernard would end up happening for the Bengals in Week 1, but I also wouldn’t be entirely shocked. Current incumbents in tight end Jermaine Gresham and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis are nowhere near the realm of All-Pro, ranking near the bottom of their respective positions in Pro Football Focus grading.