Cincinnati Bengals
There’s a big battle at running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. Who will Andy Dalton lean on in 2017 (Joe Robbins Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals are the standard of mediocrity. Cincy hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, the longest drought in the NFL. Somehow Marvin Lewis has coached the team since 2003 and has still kept his job. Andy Dalton will return for another season in what appears to be an invitable season. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but what is the future of the Cincinnati Bengals? What should you keep an eye on during training camp?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

  1. Running Back: Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard, Joe Mixon

Boy there’s a lot of bodies and not enough carries to go around. Both Bernard and Mixon are receiving threats and could be used in creative ways which helps. Mixon wasn’t high on my draft board regardless of his status off the field. Fantasy wise, Hill is the best bet for the sole purpose of those touchdowns. Bernard may get lost in the shuffle despite being one of the best backs in the NFL.

2. Middle Linebacker: Kevin Minter, Vincent Rey

The addition of Kevin Minter this offseason likely makes him the favorite for the middle linebacker job. Don’t count out Vincent Rey who has been underappreciated since taking over for Rey Mauluga. Rey could get some playing time at outside linebacker as well where rookie Carl Lawson should get the nod.

3. Cornerback: Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson, Bene Benwikere, Josh Shaw, KeiVarae Russell

The Bengals might have the deepest cornerback unit in the league. This cornerback group contains four first round picks, two of which haven’t panned out thus far. Adam Jones, as usual, is also dealing with off the field issues. Dre Kirkpatrick has emerged as a premier corner but who else will take a step forward in 2017? William Jackson is my pick after returning from injury. Jackson could be an elite nickel corner for years to come.

Ready To Breakout: Cedric Ogbuehi – Jake Fisher

The Bengals lost some valuable offensive lineman, but have no fear, the Bengals have been preparing for this moment. Ogbuehi and Fisher are both capable tackles that will step right in and produce immediatly. Both players were taken in the first two rounds of the 2015 Draft. Both received high grades in my draft guide that year.

Rookie To Watch: Carl Lawson

Not going to lie, I hated the Bengals draft. Taking John Ross with a top 10 pick will prove to be a horrible mistake. Outside of that, the lone pick that will likely shine is Carl Lawson. The former Auburn product hadd big time sack production in the SEC and recorded one of the fastest 10 yard splits at the combine. Some players fall in the draft for all the wrong reasons. Lawson’s was his arms were short. He is worth the flier in the 4th round with instant pass rush ability.

Fantasy Sleeper: Jake Elliot

Yeah that’s right, I picked a kicker. Elliot will likely become the Bengals kicker after they drafted him in the 6th round. Elliot was taken from Memphis where Stephen Gostkowski also went to school. In an offense that will move the ball but may not score a ton of touchdowns, Elliot is the kicker to keep in mind.