3 cut candidates on Bengals’ roster ahead of NFL training camp

Quarterback Joe Burrow is still with the Cincinnati Bengals, and as long as he’s upright, they should be in the playoff mix in 2024. However, the rest of the roster ahead of training camp will be tough to narrow down, providing three interesting cut candidates:

  1. Chris Evans, Running Back:
    • Evans, a 5-11, 215-pounder entering his fourth season, finds himself potentially as the fourth option in a three-man backfield. Despite his versatility and contributions on special teams, the depth and talent ahead of him might leave him on the outside looking in.
  2. Tanner McLachlan, Tight End:
    • McLachlan, a rookie drafted in the sixth round, must navigate a deep, but not overly talented, position group. As a newcomer, he faces the challenge of proving his value amidst a roster filled with more experienced players. His performance in training camp will be crucial for his chances of making the final cut.
  3. Joseph Ossai, Edge Rusher:
    • Ossai, a 6-4, 263-pound three-year veteran, is standing near the cut cliff. Despite showing potential, his position is one of depth for the Bengals. With the addition of new talents and a need for consistent production, Ossai will need to demonstrate his impact on the field to secure his spot on the roster.

As training camp progresses, these players will need to showcase their skills and prove their worth to the coaching staff to avoid being cut and secure a spot on the final roster.

 

Chris Evans, Bengals

There hasn’t been a lot of action for Chris Evans in his first three NFL seasons. He managed only 19 carries and gained 89 yards without a score, but he did find the end zone three times through the air. Evans hasn’t developed the way the Bengals hoped when they drafted him in 2021. With Joe Mixon now in Houston, the door is open for playing time at the position, but Evans doesn’t seem to have the goods to make it happen.

Ahead of Evans are Zach Moss and Chase Brown. Moss may have the inside track on first and second downs, but Brown is clearly the more explosive of the two players. Moss acknowledged the challenge Brown brings to the table in an interview with Pro Football Network.

“I love seeing what Chase is doing already,” Moss said. “He has a chance to do a lot of good things in this league, and they’re gonna put him in great positions. My job is to help him as much as I can, and vice-versa, and try to be the best tandem we can be and win games. That’s really all that matters.”

Also ahead of Evans on the depth chart is Trayveon Williams, who has been with the Bengals since 2019. Although his carries dwindled to 21 over the last two seasons combined, Williams is likely to stick around because of his special-teams prowess.

Can TE Tanner McLachlan beat the odds?

While Tanner McLachlan has earned praise as a potential breakout for the Bengals, he’s also a player who might not make the 53-man roster. His collegiate career began with four seasons at Southern Utah before transferring to the University of Arizona in 2022, where he put together a pair of solid seasons.

McLachlan eventually broke Rob Gronkowski’s career record for receptions by a tight end at Arizona, finishing with 79 receptions compared to Gronk’s 75. Some draft analysts considered McLachlan a higher pick than the sixth round, but his measurables—including his short arms (for a tight end) and lack of elite speed—likely caused teams to look elsewhere.

Despite his college success, McLachlan faces stiff competition in the Bengals’ tight end group and must prove his worth during training camp to secure a spot on the final roster.

And lacking in those areas may cost Tanner McLachlan a roster spot when August 27 rolls around. The Bengals list Mike Gesicki as their starter with Drew Sample tagged as the backup. Then comes Tanner Hudson, followed by Erick All Jr. All four of these players are expected to make the roster.

So when push comes to shove, McLachlan’s path to the 53-man roster may hinge on whether the Bengals believe they can afford to keep five players at the position.

According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, McLachlan presented a challenging evaluation.

“His measurables and traits don’t really match the intangibles and effort he puts on tape,” Zierlein said. “He plays with the spirit of an in-line tight end and flashes what it takes to execute blocks, but he’s missing the mass and play strength for one to confidently project him as a pro blocker at this point. While McLachlan has short arms and average speed, he still finds ways to go get the football outside his frame and does whatever it takes to add yards after the catch. There are boxes that go unchecked, but his ‘whatever it takes’ mentality is the kind of intangible that often turns prospects into pros.”

While McLachlan shows some promising traits, it’s still a roster-deadline call on this guy.

Edge rusher Jospeh Ossai in a difficult mix

It’s quite possible Joseph Ossai not only avoids the cut scenario but finds himself in a significant role with the Bengals in 2024.

One thing working in his favor is better health heading into the new season. He battled an ankle injury during preseason, which bothered him throughout the year. Ossai told Jay Morrison of Pro Football Network that his mindset is strong this season.

“The biggest difference is mentally, being mentally stable and being able to see yourself in a position to deal with the things you need to, as far as taking on blocks,” Ossai said. “You’re not thinking about how you’re moving, or you feel a pinch and you’re thinking, ‘Did the surgery go well? Is everything healed? Am I going to be completely ready?’”

The Bengals would like to see Ossai step up. The mix of Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson at the head of the class is strong, and Cam Sample and Myles Murphy also add to the mix. Ossai is in that next group with McKinnley Jackson, and he’s entering the final year of his contract. Nothing motivates an NFL player to reach their best level like the hope of a new deal combined with being on the roster bubble.

If Ossai can stay healthy and perform well in training camp, he has a good chance to solidify his place on the team and contribute significantly during the season.

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