Sleepers to watch at each position on offense in Bengals training camp

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As a whole, the Cincinnati Bengals classify as a sleeper going into 2021.

These Bengals, after all, have won just six games over two years, overhauled the roster again this offseason and the team’s leader — Joe Burrow — is coming back from a serious knee injury.

On a smaller scale, it’s sleeper players who could have a big impact on the Bengals next season. Whether it’s actually cracking the lineup and making an impact or just improving depth, the following sleepers are names to watch on offense.

QB: Kyle Shurmur

May 14, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Kyle Shurmur (6) huddles the team during NFL minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Truthfully, there isn’t much in the way of a sleeper to watch at quarterback with Brandon Allen backing up Joe Burrow. But Shurmur is at least interesting. After throwing 64 scores and 20 picks in college, the team had interest in him late last season while Allen was hurting. If he can make enough noise, maybe he sticks in some capacity.

RB: Pooka Williams

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Pooka Williams Jr. (36) catches a pass during an OTA practice at the Paul Brown Stadium practice field in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Cincinnati Bengals Ota

One might propose Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans or even Jacques Patrick here. But it’s the undrafted Williams who has already turned some heads in practices as he learns the ropes as a return man on special teams. Given his ability to also function as a pass-catching back, he might knock one of the more recognizable names out of a roster spot.

WR: Trent Taylor

May 14, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trent Taylor (18) catches a pass during NFL minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of making waves on special teams, Taylor has been doing just that as the clubhouse leader on returns, even getting a public nod from special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Taylor was a ho-hum signing when he came aboard, but he’s pretty clearly tabbed for that Alex Erickson role.

TE: Thaddeus Moss

Washington tight end Thaddeus Moss (46) jogs during practice at the team's NFL football training facility, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Burrow’s LSU buddy has a huge depth chart to climb with Drew Sample, C.J. Uzomah, Mitchell Wilcox and Mason Schreck in front of him. But that rapport with Moss and some NFL experience gained last year might just help him do it.

IOL: Trey Hill

Cincinnati Bengals center Trey Hill runs a drill during an NFL football rookie minicamp in Cincinnati, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Hill didn’t get a lot of attention when he was drafted in the sixth round. But the center from Georgia only seemed to fall as far as he did because injury and iffy play derailed his final season. But he was playing hurt and boasts the versatility to play all over the interior line. That could have him sneaking past someone like Billy Price while Trey Hopkins is out rehabbing his injury.

OT: Fred Johnson

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Fred Johnson (74) looks on during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)

Johnson, like most of the line last year, looked lost most of the time. But he also lined up at multiple spots, got some good reps and now gets to reset under Frank Pollack. The Steelers were not happy to lose Johnson on waivers to the Bengals and for good reason -- he’s still a sleeper candidate to blossom into potential starter material.

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