CINCINNATI -- Let's kick off this edition of our Cincinnati Bengals mailbag by passing along condolences to B.B. King's family. Lucille lost her soulmate, and the world lost a true pop-culture icon.
Rest well, B.B.
Now, for an apology. If you caught a glimpse of the blog last weekend you saw that the anticipated mailbag never ran. Blame that on yours truly, and the extra challenge last week's rookie camp posed to my schedule. The questions that didn't make it on the blog last week are part of this weekend's extended mailbag. If you don't see the question you asked seven days ago, there's a good chance you'll see it Sunday.
And with that, let's get to your questions:
@ColeyHarvey. Here's one of those questions from last week. Thanks, wanderer. Of the undrafted free agents (and we'll include the four tryout players who made the team last Sunday: Terrelle Pryor, John Peters, Erick Dargan and Kalafitoni Pole), it's hard seeing any more than two make the full 53-man roster right now. The Bengals entered this offseason with a deep roster full of veterans who already know the ways the organization does things. They also had one more draft pick than they were anticipating when the offseason began, so there's quite a bit of talent for the 15 undrafted and tryout players to overcome. Of the 15, though, cornerback Troy Hill, the safety Dargan and Pryor most caught my eye during the rookie camp last week. Peters also appears an intriguing prospect. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see the Bengals keep him around in the fall because of his size alone -- he's a 6-foot-8 tight end. If there are two who make it, right now I'd go with Hill and Pryor. Much can, of course, change between now and the end of training camp. Pryor has the tools to be on some team's Week 1 roster as a backup, and Hill seemed to be everywhere in pass defense last week. Dargan has upside, too. As for James Wilder Jr. getting onto the 53-man roster, it's possible, but the 2014 practice-squader has quite the climb in front of him. He'll have to be dynamic in the preseason on special teams above all else.
@ColeyHarvey which UDFA has the most chance of sticking? Do you see your boy Wilder bumping off Peerman on the RB depth chart this year?- The wanderer (@thewanderer2020) May 8, 2015
@ColeyHarvey Chris Jasperse have a chance to unseat Bodine? - Jake Liscow (@Jake_NFL) May 8, 2015@ColeyHarvey. Ah, another undrafted free agent to consider. I didn't include Jasperse in my last answer mainly because I knew I'd be answering this one. But it appears a safe bet, for now, to consider Jasperse among the list of fringe undrafted players who could end up on the Bengals' roster. There's a lot to like about the center from Marshall. He's a two-time All-Conference USA selection and he anchored an offensive line that had the fifth-best rushing production in the nation last season. We all know how much the Bengals like running the football. But we also know how much the Bengals like second-year starter Russell Bodine and value his strength and his upside. It's hard seeing Jasperse unseat Bodine right now, but this could end up being an intriguing competition during training camp. Perhaps a more plausible question is this: With other interior linemen in the mix for limited roster spots, will Jasperse end up taking someone else's job in order to back up Bodine?
@ColeyHarvey. Here's a natural follow-up to the previous question. Again, there is no question Bengals coaches are high on Bodine. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson have sang the young lineman's praises much of the offseason. At the end of last season, they didn't see very many areas he had to make dramatic growth. Did they feel he could improve? Yes. But did he have to improve as much as many in the fan base may believe? They don't seem to think so. Part of the knock on Bodine stems from the belief he isn't a very good overall blocker. Pro Football Focus graded him at minus-9.0 on pass-blocking and minus-6.3 on run-blocking last year. He also had seven penalties and allowed 14 quarterback hurries, according to PFF. It's hard to say if Bodine will show "big" improvement like guard Clint Boling may have, but another year in the league ought to have a positive impact.
@ColeyHarvey question-do u think Bodine will show big improvement from yr1 to 2.Boling did because of a coachs list of specific issues......- Cbraines1976 (@cbraines1976) May 15, 2015
@ColeyHarvey Is Mario Alford a good slot receiver? Also do you think he will overtake Tate as starting returner? - Tyler Huser (@THuser7) May 8, 2015@ColeyHarvey. Tyler, Alford can pretty much do it all. You'll see him lined up at any of the outside receiver positions, and you also will see him in the slot. I would venture to say that he has more experience on the outside, playing as the No. 2 option to Kevin White at West Virginia. His speed makes him a viable option to catch short passes out of the slot, and to gain yards in space from there. As you know, though, the Bengals like using bigger players in the slot. Marvin Jones probably will see extensive action there now that he's back, as will Mohamed Sanu. So we may not see Alford in the slot as often as many think. He looked pretty sound running outside routes in rookie camp the other day, so we'll see. As for taking over Brandon Tate at kick returner? I personally will put that in ink. I think it happens. We've got a long way to go still, and Tate could ultimately retain his job, but for now, I see him getting beat. Denarius Moore, Tevin Reese and Cobi Hamilton also will be in for a real battle at receiver in camp this year.