Carl Lawson stands out among Bengals rookies at midseason

10:00 AM ET

  • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer



Here's a look at how the Cincinnati Bengals' rookies have fared during the first half of the season:

John Ross, WR, first round: Ross came into OTAs injured and left the preseason the same way. Ross has played only 11 total snaps after missing several games because of a knee injury, and the coaching staff is trying to get him caught up. He hasn't had a chance to flash his record-breaking speed, and it could be a while before the Bengals truly unleash him. Grade: Incomplete.

Joe Mixon, RB, second round: Mixon has shown the ability to make explosive plays, but he hasn't been able to overcome a struggling offensive line in front of him. Mixon has impressed at times as both a runner and a pass-catcher, but he is averaging 3 yards per carry and fumbled in consecutive games. There's room for improvement, but the potential is certainly there. Grade: Above average.

Jordan Willis, DE, third round: Evans isn't a starter yet, with Michael Johnson holding that role in base defense, but Willis has done everything the coaches have asked of him when he rotates in on the defensive line. Willis also plays special teams and blocked a punt against the Colts. Grade: Above average

Carl Lawson, DE, fourth round: Lawson has been the steal of the draft and one of the stars of the Bengals' draft class. The Bengals had thoughts to move him to linebacker, but he came along so quickly in his role as a nickel edge rusher that the plan was abandoned. Lawson is second on the team in sacks behind Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Grade: Near perfection.

Josh Malone, WR, fourth round: It's hard to grade Malone because he was at the bottom of a giant wide receivers group for a while. But once he got his chance, he has started to show what he could do, catching his first touchdown pass against the Colts on Oct. 29. Grade: Average.

Ryan Glasgow, DT, fourth round: Glasgow is mixed into the rotation on the defensive line and plays about 30 percent of the snaps every game. Grade: Average.

J.J. Dielman, C, fifth round: The Bengals took a chance by waiving Dielman at the end of training camp, and he was claimed off waivers by the Rams. But his stint in Los Angeles was short lived, and Dielman soon signed with the Bengals practice squad. He has been there all season, so an evaluation is difficult at this point. Grade: Incomplete


Jordan Evans, LB, sixth round: Evans' role has been mostly on special teams this season as several other linebackers are ahead of him on the depth chart. He has taken only 13 snaps on defense. While he has played well on special teams, he's mostly an incomplete on defense. Grade: Below average.

Brandon Wilson, CB, sixth round: Wilson spent all of training camp working through an injury and has been on the practice squad since the beginning of the season. The Bengals liked him enough to move up in the draft to get him, but he's largely an unknown commodity at this point. Grade: Incomplete

Mason Schreck, TE, seventh round: Schreck came along quickly after struggling with drops in OTAs. He put together some nice plays in both practice and preseason games, but ultimately went down because of an injury and was placed on IR. The Bengals will have to wait until next year to make a true evaluation. Grade: Incomplete


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