CINCINNATI -- When their roster begins shrinking in the next few weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals will have some difficult decisions to make when it comes to their undrafted rookies.
Making this team will be an incredibly tall task for the youngest players who enter the year on the fringe of the roster. There is so much existing talent at many of the same positions most of these hopeful rookies are attempting to make.
It also doesn't help that all nine of this year's draft picks have shown promise during the spring and so far in training camp. It's quite possible each one of them makes the 53-man roster. That certainly would limit spaces for the undrafted rookies. First-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi may be the only one who doesn't initially make the roster as he returns from a December ACL injury.
In no particular order, here are three undrafted players who have impressed in this very early stage in camp:
DT DeShawn Williams, Clemson. He hasn't popped consistently in practice, but a couple of times Tuesday he did a good job setting the edge as a defensive end during drills against the first-team offense. On one play in particular, he took his blocker further and further outside, forcing quarterback Andy Dalton to leave the pocket in that same direction. Dalton was forced to throw the ball away as he went out of bounds. Williams has played both on the inside and outside as part of different packages.
TE Matt Lengel, Eastern Kentucky. While Lengel has had a couple catches in the passing game that have been impressive so far, he also has shown a measure of physicality as a blocker. Although he has Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah ahead of him on the depth chart (2014 practice squad tight end Jake Murphy has impressed some, too), the Bengals are looking for tight ends who don't shy from contact. Lengel's 6-foot-7, lean, pseudo-defensive end's frame makes him ideal to take on outside rushers.
WR Jake Kumerow, Wisconsin-Whitewater. Quite possibly the best of the undrafted rookies to this point, Kumerow practices like he's been in the NFL before. He's smooth in and out of routes, and has already demonstrated a few times an ability to get behind the defender going one-on-one with him. As the Bengals start rounding out their roster following James Wright's injured reserve designation, Kumerow could help them do it.