Sifting Through Diamonds In The Rough
By Jason Henry
Now that the NFL Draft is over, teams are looking around for undrafted free agents to fill training camp slots and holes on the team. Outside of addressing their needs via the draft, the Cincinnati Bengals signed a few undrafted free agents for their rookie minicamp (May 10-12). They were in need of aid in the defensive backfield and could have used another running back, so adding players to compete at those positions will be important to their success in 2013, right?
Here is a full listing of the Bengals rookie mini-camp roster and what each player can bring to the table:
DT Larry Black, Indiana
Black is from the Queen City and was signed last week to compete along the defensive line. He’s not a sack machine and won’t put up flashy numbers, but he’s tough, durable and a lot of what he contributes will not show up on the stat line.
CB Terrence Brown, Stanford
Brown could have gone back to Stanford to play his senior season and improve his draft stock, but he decided to forgo that privilege and enter the draft. Too bad things didn’t work out as he saw it because he went undrafted. But while his career didn’t start with the bang that he wanted, he will receive a shot to make an NFL roster. Cincinnati signed the rangy cornerback last week as an undrafted free agent.
Brown isn’t the fastest (4.55-40), but he does have big-play ability and isn’t afraid to tackle. He had one interception during his final season at Stanford, but can use his frame to stick with some of the NFL’s larger receivers.
OLB Jordan Campbell, New Mexico Highlands
The former Southern Cal linebacker with the wild hair will compete for a spot on the roster as an outside linebacker. Campbell played at USC for three seasons before deciding to take a trip to New Mexico Highlands due to lack of playing time as a Trojan.
Besides leaving USC coach Lane Kiffin’s squad, Campbell is best known for his incredible strength (39 reps of 225 pounds) and ability to use his speed to chase down defenders. He seems to fit the Bengals’ mold, but only time will tell if he can keep his focus to being successful on the field.
DT Travis Chappelear, Northwest Missouri State
Chappelear is another defensive lineman with the ability to make some noise during minicamp. He’s tough, nimble and has a non-stop motor.
LB Jayson DiManche, Southern Illinois
At DiManche’s pro day at Northwestern, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds and put up 225 pounds 24 times. DiManche isn’t the type of player Cincinnati will count on for every-down production. But in obvious pass rush situations, he has the ability to contribute by chasing down the quarterback and enough athletic ability to cover a tight end.
WR Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky
Goard stands tall at 6-4, so many will see him as an end-zone, jump-ball target for QB Andy Dalton. He was productive in his final season at EKU, catching 41 balls for eight touchdowns and 900 yards. Goard ran the 40 in 4.46, so he could turn into a real deep-ball threat.
RB Onterio McCalebb, Auburn
McCalebb’s 40-time was a blazing 4.29, so it’s safe to say that he can stick with any NFL wide receiver. But can he cover them?
McCalebb played running back for Auburn on a part-time basis and was looked as a wide receiver by some NFL squads. Due to his speed and size, the Bengals want to try him out at cornerback. The odds are long that he’ll make the final squad, but if he does, it could be an interesting find for Cincinnati.
WR Roy Roundtree, Michigan
A star at Michigan because he caught the game winning touchdown against Notre Dame in 2011, the 6-1 Roundtree went undrafted after a successful career in Ann Arbor. He was picked up by the team last week and looks as if he could be an instant contributor in the slot.
Roundtree has quick feet, a great pair of hands and enough strength to push his way out of the bump. His ability to make the team will be compromised because Cincinnati will likely carry five receivers, but he’ll have the chance to do so if he can make an impression in the slot.
K/P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
Sharp converted 84 percent of his field goals in 2012 and averaged almost 47 yards on punts. The Bengals have a strong leg on their staff with good college accuracy, but it remains to be seen if he can make those kicks at the next level.
CB Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota
Stoudermire doesn’t have the ideal size to morph into an every-down corner in the NFL as he’s only 5-10 and 199 pounds. However, he can be aggressive and uses his speed to make up for technical deficiencies in his game. Stoudermire holds the record for more return yards in college, so he’ll return a kick or two for Cincinnati if he makes the team as a special teams player.
OT John Sullen, Auburn
The Bengals like Auburn players, don’t they? Sullen is a huge offensive lineman (6-4, 336), with a great ability to push open holes for the men running behind him. Cincinnati is bringing back every one of the key offensive lineman they had last year onto the 2013 roster, so adding Sullen is a move to improve their depth at the position.
He has a great first step and uses his hands and strong arms pretty well in run blocking. Cincinnati’s offense is expected to be more open in 2013, so having a player like Sullen on the bench in case of injury seems to be a pretty good move.
ILB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Taylor’s best years in Blacksburg came before he injured his foot as a junior. He has fully recovered from the injury, but for one reason or another, he hasn’t been the same player since. Taylor has range and can drop into pass coverage or sniff out the run and blow the play up at the line of scrimmage. If he can make the team, his high-energy approach could serve him well in Cincinnati.