Cincinnati Bengals' Options at No. 2 WR: Marvin Jones or Mohamed Sanu?

Matt GrayContributor IApril 30, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Marvin Jones #1 of the California Golden Bears is tackled by Corey Gatewood #2 of the Stanford Cardinal  at Stanford Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After the largely expected addition of Mohamed Sanu in the third round of the 2012 draft, it came as somewhat of a surprise to see the Bengals draft another receiver in the form of Cal's Marvin Jones in the fifth.

The immediate question that springs to mind is: Which one of these players will start?

Despite the large gap between them in terms of what round they were selected, the talent level of these two players is surprisingly even.

The recent troubles surrounding Jerome Simpson have highlighted the reality that the Cincinnati Bengals have been without a true No. 2 wide receiver since T.J. Houshmandzadeh left in 2009.

While Simpson produced flashes of brilliance, it was his inconsistency under pressure for which he will be remembered.

The sentimental among us might argue that had Chris Henry's life not come to a tragic end, he may well have been lining up opposite A.J. Green in 2012. As a 30-year-old, Henry could have provided a much-needed veteran presence in the receiving corps.

However, after struggling to find a veteran in free agency, the Bengals find themselves with yet more youth thrust upon them and a desperate need to have someone step up.

The early favorite has to be Cal receiver Marvin Jones, whom Gregg Cossel of NFL Films described as having the "widest catching radius of any wide receiver I evaluated."

Jones is a physical player with big hands and long arms, and he's more than confident about how he will fit into Jay Gruden's system: "They run a West Coast offense. Obviously, playing at Cal for four years, that's what I'm used to. I can come in and run every route and vie for a position," said Jones.

Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has pegged Jones as the likely starter at No. 2, while suggesting that his draft counterpart, Mohamed Sanu, could wind up competing with Jordan Shipley for receptions in the slot.

Sanu has drawn comparisons to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in terms of his size and his consistency. He is a good route runner, and while he might not hold the same big-play potential as Jones, he might prove a more dependable target.

The log-jam at receiver will be bad news for the likes of Armon Binns, Ryan Whalen, Brandon Tate and Vidal Hazelton, who could all be on their way out. Supporting cast standout Andrew Hawkins will also find it difficult to get a foot up in 2012, but given his impressive debut, he deserves an opportunity to contribute.

We are still a long way from knowing how the offense will look September 9th in Baltimore, but with a plethora of young and hungry talent lining up at wideout, the Cincinnati air game will go from strength to strength.