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Bengals rookie impact

07/28/13

The Bengals didn't need to bring in a big free agent.  Yes they signed James Harrison, but he replaces the only starter not returning this season.  I can't imagine any other team in the NFL has every major player returning at every position.
However Cincinnati did add talent and depth through the draft and their top two picks might be what gets the team over that playoff hump.

I saw Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard at camp last week and walked away impressed.  Eifert was the top college tight end last season and he has showed why.  Eifert hasn't dropped a ball so far.  He's not even expected to start!  The Bengals have two-time Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham to fill the main role and Eifert as his compliment.  They went the way of the Patriots who saw a great deal of success with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (yes I know) and hope Gresham and Eifert can be that same one-two punch.
The Bengals have Gresham in stripes through next season and after that it might be Eifert's time.  However after Gresham's countless drops last season, including in the playoff loss at Houston, he might make Gresham expendable. 
For now Eifert is in the perfect spot.  He has the skills to make a difference, but can sit behind Gresham and chip in when needed.  By what I saw at camp Andy Dalton might allow him to chip in a lot!

Giovani Bernard is the other impact rookie to join the team.  Bernard was a second round pick out of North Carolina and is seen as a versatile pass catcher out of the backfield.
From what I saw he is a jitterbug with NFL speed who will be hard to find at 5'9" running behind big Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth.
In camp he was busting through holes and juking defenders right and left and the Bengals have had a top ten defense for multiple seasons.
Bernard will complement Benjarvus Green-Ellis and likely push Bernard Scott off the roster.  The hope is he can stay healthy.  It seems like the Bengals always have a scat back who's projected to make a difference, but they never see the field.  Think Bernard Scott, Kenny Irons, and Chris Perry.