The Bengals have quite an interesting roster scrum emerging at Wide Receiver. It's not loaded on experience, but it has a world of potential and talent.
The Bengals currently have 12 receivers on the roster and typically keep 6, rarely 7.
Let's take a look at them:
AJ Green - obviously he's got a spot locked up. Coming off a monster rookie season that saw a Pro Bowl selection.
Jordan Shipley - It's surprising to think that a player just entering his third year in the league is the is one of the most experienced players at his position. Yet its true. Shipley, the oldest WR on the roster at just 26, was recently cleared by doctors from his ACL injury that kept him out of most of 2011. His spot is pretty safe as the starter in the slot.
Mohamed Sanu - By virtue of draft position (3rd round), Sanu's got a spot locked up, but will have to earn the #2 spot. Sanu had a great season at Rutgers last year (115 catches) but will have to prove that he can separate from man coverage at the NFL level. He's drawn comparisons to TJ Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati. If he lives up to that billing he can have a long career in the league.
Marvin Jones - like Sanu, a rookie competing for a spot. He was only a 5th rounder, but has an inside track for a spot. He's just a 5th round pick, but the Bengals don't like to cut draft picks unless they have to. Jones strengths are speed, route running and strength. Will challenge for the #2 spot and at the least likely makes the top 6.
Brandon Tate - the senior man experience wise in the group despite being just 24, entering his 4th year. Played almost exclusively on special teams for the Bengals last year after being claimed on waivers a week before the season started. Played solidly as the #3 WR in New England in 2010, but will have to prove he's more than just a special teamer to keep a roster spot as there's a lot of guys who can fill his special teams role. Will be in the mix for the #2 WR spot.
Andrew Hawkins - Technically a rookie in 2011, Hawkins actually graduated college in 2008 and jumped from training camps and the CFL before landing with the Bengals. Provided a spark off the bench, finishing with 24 catches and has a skill set different than most of the receivers on the roster.
Ryan Whalen - A 2011 rookie, Whalen finished the season with 4 catches after being activated late in the season. Not an explosive athlete, but a dependable route runner who was one of Andrew Luck's main men at Stanford. Draws comparisons to former Bengal Kevin Walter.
Armon Binns - has no experience after being an undrafted rookie in 2011, but the coaches raved about him and was said to be uncoverable in practice. Marvin Lewis claims the offensive coaches were pushing him to give Binns playing time late in 2011. Possesses the size (6'3" 209) the Bengals would like opposite of AJ Green.
Vidal Hazelton - another 2011 undrafted rookie with no experience, Hazelton may be the best athlete of the group not named AJ Green. A highly touted recruit of USC, he transferred to the University of Cincinnati after a lack of playing time. Didn't see much action at UC due to injuries and having to sit a year due to transfer rules. Has a shot at a spot if he's learned to be a complete WR behind the scenes.
Kashif Moore - a surprise undrafted rookie. Had the second best 40time for WR's and nearly broke the combine record for the vertical leap. Likely undrafted because he's only 5'8". A talented speedster, he likely needs to beat out Hawkins as the team isn't likely to keep both a 5'7" and 5'8" WR.
Justin Hilton and Taveon Rodgers - two undrafted rookies who are both likely fighting for a practice squad spot. Both have speed to kill but both come from small schools and likely will have a long learning curve. Speed alone won't win them a spot.
I could conceivably seen any of the top 10 winning one of the 6 available spots. It also looks like they may keep 2 on the practice squad. Once upon a recent time the Bengals were having trouble finding enough talent to fill out their 53 man roster. NOW, there's going to be a good competition at WR just to make the practice squad.