Last season, A.J. Green played the roll of Batman for the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also lead the team to the playoffs in which they went on to receive a first round departure via the Texans.
With the 29th pick of the 6th round in the 2013 NFL Draft (197th overall), the Bengals finally got their Robin: Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton.
Hamilton leaves Arkansas as the school’s all-time leader in receptions with 175, and is third all-time in receiving yards. He earned those honors despite being fourth on the depth chart for his first three seasons behind current Minnesota Vikings receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, as well as the Carolina Panthers’ Joe Adams.
In his senior season, Hamilton finally had his chance at that number one spot. Although his team did not live up to their expectations (went 4-8 after beginning the season ranked in the top 20), Hamilton surpassed them as an individual player. In 12 games, he had 90 catches for a school record 1,335 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s an average of 14.8 yards per catch and 111.2 yards per game.
If Hamilton could only produce half of those numbers next season in Cincinnati, that would already be more than any other Bengals receiver contributed a year ago (not including Green).
The current number 2 receiver in Cincinnati is Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins had 51 receptions for 533 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. After Hawkins, there was a bunch of guys that saw the field but couldn’t produce on a consistent basis. Brandon Tate had the third most receiving yards on the team amongst the wide-outs, but only had 211 and one touchdown. Armon Binns had 210 yards and a touchdown, while Mohamed Sanu had 154 yards and four quiet touchdowns.
Jermaine Gresham, a tight end, was second on the team in receiving yards with 737 and also had 5 touchdowns. With receivers unable to step-up, Gresham was forced to take on a much bigger role in the passing game. Perhaps that role was too big, as the Bengals ultimately couldn’t score enough points to advance in the playoffs.
Hamilton has all the tools and play-making abilities to be a legit threat to opposing defenses and the perfect compliment to A.J. Green. Although on paper he stands 6’2″ and weighs 212 pounds, Hamilton plays much bigger (see video at the bottom of the page for evidence). There will be some adjustments to be made as far as adapting to the professional game goes, but one skill Hamilton already has that will translate over immediately is a lack of fear. Many receivers in today’s game want to rack up stats and catch touchdown passes, but don’t want to have to get dirty while doing it (DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles would be the first example that comes to mind). Hamilton would be the exact opposite. At times, he might even be too physical for his own good.
As you can see in the video posted below, Hamilton loves to catch passes coming across the middle. Contact does not scare him. Granted he wasn’t playing against Ray Lewis or James Harrison, but I think it’s safe to say that linebackers in the SEC aren’t exactly pushovers. He uses his size to create separation and break tackles, but he also has sneaky good speed. He ran a 4.56 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. That number doesn’t seem to do his game speed justice. His first choice is to beat you across the middle, but just when the defender starts thinking they have him figured out, he beats them on a seam route for six.
It’s obvious that outside of Green and Gresham, the Bengals need help in the receiving game. They used their first round pick on Tyler Eifert, the highly regarded tight end out of Notre Dame. The Bengals weren’t done there, as they drafted a pass-catching running back in Giovani Bernard with their second pick.
For a Bengals team that’s coming off a 10-6 record in the regular season and a trip to the playoffs, there is a lot to be excited for when looking at the pieces in place for the future. You’ve got a solid defense, excellent young draft picks, and one of the best receivers in football who happens to be only 24 years old. Now that you’ve added the counterpart in Hamilton, things have potential to get serious in Cincinnati.
Go ahead and get familiar with the name, because this fall, Cobi Hamilton is coming to an end-zone near you.
(Watch what he does to two LSU defenders at 2:20 mark)