After another playoff appearance last season, the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t planning on letting that streak end, hoping that the upgrades they’ve made to their offense through the NFL draft will be enough to take them beyond the wildcard stage. The most surprising addition, in the long run, might be Rex Burkhead, the sixth round pick out of Nebraska, making the strongest impression at this very early stage in training camp.
Burkhead was only the second running back taken by the Bengals in the draft. Giovani Bernard, a second round pick out of North Carolina, was their first choice for the position, that also occupies a 1000 yard rusher, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, although he did average a disappointing 3.9 yards per carry. It’s clear that Marvin Lewis is looking to base his running game and overall offense on more weapons, including giving A.J. Green some help through the backfield.
And while Bernard, who ran for 1228 yards for the Tar Heels last season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry, initially looked like the more intriguing prospect, it’s been Rex Burkhead, who missed six games last season for Nerbaska but averaged 6.9 yards per carry during his healthy time later in the season, that’s been the one Marvin Lewis has been talking about.
Just the quickness in line, the ability to stick his foot in the ground and go from Point A to Point B. Just the things you saw from him on tape. His abilities as a receiver. I think he’ll be a guy also who will really uplift us on special teams and compete to be one of our core guys.
The Bengals’ draft has been about improving their offense – Bernard, Burkhead and Tyler Eifert as their first round pick to give Andy Dalton a very reliable target at tight end. While Burkhead didn’t look like the big name coming out of this draft class considering how late he was picked, he might be the one who makes the best impression.