In 2011, it was a foregone conclusion who the No.2 receiver would be, opposite A.J. Green—that being Jerome Simpson. Following that season, Simpson left town and that left a gaping hole in the Cincinnati Bengals offense.
That hole really wasn't filled in 2012. The original thought was that Armon Binns and Brandon Tate would (for some reason) be viable options to fill the void. Following what we all should've known would be disappointing performances by both, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones saw time as the second guy.
Now begs the question with 2013 looming: Who will be seeing the majority of action who isn't named A.J. Green? While there are a load of receivers on the Bengals roster, it seems that the race is between three men.
Second-year receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones head the list, while rookie Cobi Hamilton is looking to shock the Who-Dey nation.
At this point in the race, Sanu is probably the favorite. He showed a lot of promise in his brief opportunities in 2012. During the last three games he played in, Sanu gathered 11 catches for 98 yards and four touchdowns.
He wouldn't see another game after the Week 12 matchup against Oakland, as he was placed on injured reserve with an injured foot.
The biggest positive about Sanu is that he has great hands and won't drop a lot of balls, contrary to past receivers the Bengals have had (i.e. Laveranues Coles). He's good to go on a slant route across the middle and is a physical receiver.
He certainly isn't the fastest guy of the bunch but he is reliable to catch the ball and pick up the yards he needs for a first down. This is Sanu's battle to lose.
Jones is considerably faster than Sanu, and in that regard, could beat out the former Scarlet Knight for the No.2 job.
Most of his highlight reel came in the last two games of the 2012 season, where he brought in 10 of the 18 passes he caught. As a fifth-round selection last season, it wasn't thought he'd see much action so quickly, but Jones filled in nicely during Cincy's time of need.
He has a good tendency to not just use his speed to beat DBs, but he is smart enough to find ways to get open. It's not always about speed (though make no mistake, he has it)—Jones can outsmart opponents' secondaries and find separation deep down the field.
That's another strength Jones has. While Sanu is not going to be a deep threat, Jones can be.
The issue with that is this—how often does Andy Dalton go deep? Not often, and it's usually to A.J. Green. Therefore, despite Jones' considerable talent, I don't see him taking the job from Sanu.
Strangely enough, Cobi Hamilton has garnered comparisons to his teammate, Mohamed Sanu (courtesy of NFL.com). How is that?
The biggest reason is probably that he is not a deep threat that is going to be able to use speed as a weapon. Instead, his physicality after the catch and sure-handedness is what could win him the job.
Last season at Arkansas, Hamilton reeled in 90 passes for over 1,300 yards, but only saw the end zone five times. Hence, he averaged over 12 yards per catch, a pretty decent average.
It would be quite the surprise if Hamilton were able to overtake both Jones and Sanu for the job, but it would certainly not be a step backwards. Most people don't see a lot of value in guys who were sixth-round selections, but there are certainly going to be uses for Hamilton.
In a couple of years, this kid could really burst onto the scene, but for now, it probably won't be in the cards.