Bengals training camp is just around the corner, and with that comes position battles. We all know that after the position battles, the final roster is cut down to 53 men. This is going to be a daily edition of Riverfront Ball where we are going to predict the final 53 men one position group at a time.
This week’s edition, the Offensive Backfield.
Andy DaltonMay 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) runs drills during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
In 214 Dalton led the Bengals to a 9-6-1 record and an AFC Wild Card appearance. Many people love to blame Dalton for the losses, for which some have been his fault, but 2014 was actually one of his better efforts. Despite not having A.J. Green or Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert, or Jermaine Gresham, and keeping in mind that Jeremy Hill was injured for majority of the game Dalton played well.
Rex Burkhead was placed at wide receiver for the game, and Mohamed Sanu was the only regular. Dalton finished 18/35 with 155 yards and no picks. The team rushed for 110 on 21 carries, but Hill and Giovani Bernard combined for 15 carries and 53 yards.
Dalton will still need to vastly improve to win the hearts of Bengals fans, but it could definitely be a lot worse. #Akili
Much has been made of this once high caliber college superstar. We all know that McCarron won back to back titles under Nick Saben at Alabama, but none of us have seen what he can truly do. Many around McCarron in the organization seem to be under the impression that his shoulder is back to full health and that he may one day take the reigns of a starting quarterback in this league. However, 2015 will be known as his Pre Season show case baring an sort of injury to Dalton.
Hill with undoubtably make the team in 2015, but how good will he actually be. The sophomore slump is a terrible thing, but so is over hyping a player. I, like many people, believe that Jeremy Hill can be one of the best backs in the league, but he is far from it at the moment. The national media has seemingly put this man in Canton after just 9 games.
We all know he tore it up last year, but the book is out on him now. Teams have had an entire offseason to study him and his fumblitis. He has a large ceiling, but maybe we should calm down just a tad. It was just 9 games.
Giovani BernardDec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) runs the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) in the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Another lock to make the roster, but Bernard is solid when he is in doses. When the Bengals tried to make
Bernard returned to his old form with less, but more effective touches. He was not as worn down, and seemed to be quicker. Look for him to be in a similar role this season.
Burkhead’s playoff performance may have earned him a spot on the roster this season. The coaching staff loves what he can do all over the field. He is a productive pass blocker. He can catch out of the backfield, and down the field, as well as run a little bit.
He is a valuable piece for any offense to have.
James Wilder Jr.
Yes, I Know. While it may not be the popular pick next to Cedric Peerman, Wilder offers just a tad bit more. He was a special teams stand out at Florida State, so that levels out with Peerman. He fits the power run scheme better than Peerman does, and he is younger.
Peerman in his limited offensive action has not shown much and he is getting up there in age. If Wilder can show that he can be just as effective on Special Teams and offer just a little bit more on the offensive side of the ball, Peerman may be looking else where for a job come September.
Keep in mind that he is also making a transition to Full Back. There is that versatility thing again.
*DISCLAIMER: Adult Language in Music Video
There were not enough good things to be said about Ryan Hewitt. He consistently made the right block and was part of the reason Jeremy Hill had the holes that he did last season. He is a value pass catcher and has a strong enough body to the the punishment needed in the AFC North trenches.