COMMENTARY | The 2013 edition of rookie minicamp for the Cincinnati Bengals arrived with a heightened sense of excitement from fans after the front office added 10 players in a draft class widely hailed as exceptional.
Of course, rookie minicamp is nothing more than giving rookies their first dose of the playbook and attempting to sift through the waves of undrafted talent and tryouts, but it's always nice to hear what made the headlines as practices were carried out.
Let's take a look at some of the most important notes after the Cincinnati coaching staff finally got to see their new pieces in action for the first time.
Tyler Eifert Flashes His Versatility
Chalk this one up as "not surprising." According to Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer, the first round pick made some spectacular catches.
He also showed off an element of his game that will make him a major contributor right away. According to the report, Eifert was seen not only lining up along the line, but standing up in the slot and even splitting out as a wide receiver.
This is the type of versatility the Cincinnati offense needed going into the draft. Eifert's ability to act as a wide receiver means both he and fellow tight end Jermaine Gresham will be seeing the field a lot together next season.
Sean Porter Impressing Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer
Rookie linebacker Sean Porter isn't the biggest name the team selected in the draft, but he's a player who looks to be well on his way to a starting role in a few seasons.
The fourth round pick is impressing Mike Zimmer according to Geoff Hobson over at Bengals.com. Zimmer is pleased with how Porter has been able to pack on muscle as of late, as well as his performance in drills.
While Zimmer was seen spending a good amount of time with safety Shawn Williams, who figures to start right away next season, the development of Porter so far is quietly one of the bigger stories from minicamp.
Tanner Hawkinson Lined Up At Every Position
Ohio State's Reid Fragel was the big-name offensive lineman the Bengals selected in the draft. Tanner Hawkinson was a polar opposite and considered by most to be a bad pick.
Per Hobson's report, Hawkinson took snaps at every position along the offensive line during the course of rookie minicamp.
Maybe that's why the Cincinnati coaching staff took Hawkinson two rounds before Fragel.
The Bengals are weak at the left guard spot, and potentially center at well. If Hawkinson has a solid preseason, he could at the very least push for a roster spot given his impressive display of versatility so far.
Converted Corner Onterio McCalebb Progressing Fast
Many heads were collectively scratched after the Benglas signed undrafted free agent running back Onterio McCalebb and revealed they would be trying him at the cornerback position.
According to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, McCalebb is making leaps and bounds in just a few practices with the team (per Jay Morrison of The Dayton Daily News):
"He's got all the want-to, and there was a big progression technically from practice one from practice two. That's all we need to keep seeing from him. Kenny Riley reached out to us. He lives not far from where he grew up. We were able to put him in touch with Kenny and they had a good talk. Kenny kind of told him his story about how he made the transfer from offense to defense because he had those skills. A thing we weren't necessarily sure about with Onterio was 'Does he have the quickness to be a corner?' After watching him in two practices, I don't have any doubt of that."
McCalebb is playing the cornerback position for the first time in five years. His ability to pick up the position again quickly, coupled with his elite return skills on special teams, means he could be a lock for the final roster.
Cobi Hamilton May Have Had the Best Camp of All
Going into rookie minicamp the consensus was all of the receivers participating would have serious trouble making the final roster thanks to the wealth of talent already inhabiting the depth chart.
That's all changed now.
Cobi Hamilton, the team's sixth-round pick out of Arkansas, made a name for himself quickly in camp and caught the eye of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com):
"He'll challenge to make the squad and become a player," Gruden said. "Cobi's an exciting guy. He's bigger than I thought he was. He's taller. He's got good stride to him, he's got good hands, he's tough. In Arkansas he ran a lot of crossing routes so we knew he wasn't afraid to go across the middle. We like Cobi. We're impressed with what he's done so far."
"That receiver room just gets stronger and stronger, younger and younger," Gruden said. "He's got big strong hands, long arms, long body; he definitely looks the part. You take a guy like that and you know he can handle it mentally, you've got something."
If that isn't good enough for you, Gruden went on to lament about how quickly and effortlessly Hamilton picked up the playbook.
There may be even more competition than we thought at the receiver position going forward.
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Cincinnati Bengals