CINCINNATI -- I'm stealing a page here from my colleague, Baltimore Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley.
Earlier this week, Jamison compiled a nice post on how this year's Ravens squad was built, looking at the draft, free agency and trades that took place in order to get the team set the way it currently is.
It got me thinking.
How did the Cincinnati Bengals go about getting the 53 men on their initial 2014 roster that was unveiled last Saturday?
Down below, you'll find out. Unlike a lot of teams, the Bengals reached their magical number through an exhaustive number of homegrown moves, and a few but veteran free-agency acquisitions. Three straight postseason trips indicate the philosophy must be working. Credit coach Marvin Lewis, director of player personnel Duke Tobin and their scouts and assistant coaches for that.
FIRST ROUND (8)
Note: All eight should play key roles this season. While Kirkpatrick hasn't met expectations overall, Dennard appears poised to do so in this, his rookie season.
SECOND ROUND (7)
Note: Aside from the rookie Hill, who still is expected to have a big impact on the Bengals' running game as a rookie, Hunt is the last of the first six players on this list to get consistent playing time. He'll do so this year in what should still be a solid Bengals defense, even despite losses of end Michael Johnson and coordinator Mike Zimmer.
THIRD ROUND (4)
Note: All four are regarded as backups, but a preseason injury to Marvin Jones will thrust Sanu into the No. 2 receiver's role. He and Thompson should play regularly on offense and defense, and Williams will give valued special teams minutes.
FOURTH ROUND (6)
Note: Excluding Porter, this group is filled with physical players in the trenches. Geathers is the second-oldest player on the team, but he figures to play a key role this year like all the other linemen on this list.
FIFTH ROUND (4)
Note: Jones is the only one here who won't be starting the season. He'll be sidelined with a foot injury until Week 5. Otherwise, Hawkinson will be hard-pressed to make the game-day 46-man roster each week.
SIXTH ROUND (2)
Note: Neither will play a starting role this year, but expectations are high that the young players can assist in the team's future depth.
SEVENTH ROUND (2)
Note: It's likely we see Wright crack the 46-man roster each week due to his special teams savvy, but Johnson might be on the fringe like Hawkinson.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT (5)
Note: This is where the Bengals have truly built themselves in recent years. Rey is the oldest of this group, joining in 2010. While he and DiManche are primarily reserves, the other three play positions that are the backbone of the team's aggressive offensive and defensive identity.
FREE AGENTS (13)
QB Jason Campbell, RB Cedric Peerman, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, WR Brandon Tate, TE Alex Smith, OG Mike Pollak, OT Marshall Newhouse, DE Wallace Gilberry, DE Christo Bilukidi, CB Adam Jones, CB Terence Newman, K Mike Nugent, LS Clark Harris.
Note: The Bengals aren't the most active free agency players each year, but they have gotten quality veteran backups this way. Jones, Gilberry and Pollak probably wouldn't be as buried on most depth charts as they are in Cincinnati.
Note: As you can see, the Bengals don't think trades are very conducive to their immediate success. They are the definition of a homegrown team, although they certainly didn't get the move for Nelson wrong.