Projections for an NFL 53-man roster a week before MLB's All-Star Game are a lot like a squeeze play. Or an all-out blitz. Or putting the winning run on base via a walk. Or a fourth-down pass.
You can try it, but don't be surprised if you look bad doing it.
Want to look really bad?
Forget the 53-man roster. Try projecting the 46-man active sheet when the Bengals open the season in Chicago on Sept. 8. We'll do it here, but it is going to be filthy with guesswork, assumptions and, most of all, that 11-letter word called "speculation." That's one letter for every year Marvin Lewis has been the Bengals head coach and in his vocabulary "speculation" is as profane as any four-letter word picked up by the Hard Knocks mikes.
Coming up with The 46 is even tougher because the slew of factors that go into making up a Game Day list aren't even on paper yet. Three of the leading components for The List are injury, opponent and development of young players.
With the pundits calling the Bengals roster among the deepest in the league, cutting to 53 is going to make their training camp as intriguing and as heated as any of Lewis's previous scrums. So just imagine the cut to 46 the week of the opener.
Here's what The List could look like when Lewis hands in his lineup card 90 minutes before the kickoff at Soldier Field. With the emphasis, of course, on "could."
THE BIG QUESTION: Isn't it looking like the backup job is
WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
THE BIG QUESTION: If someone is going to knock Tate out of the return role on both kickoffs and punts, he'll have to have a heck of a preseason. Cornerback
How much do the Bengals want to give rookie running back
RUNNING BACKS (3)
THE BIG QUESTION: Peerman figures to be in a tough derby with the last two sixth-rounders for one of four roster spots with Dan Herron and rookie
But Herron also impressed during his rookie year on special teams. If Burkhead makes it, he'd probably be sitting early on.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
THE BIG QUESTION: It surfaced in the spring when tight end
OFFENSIVE LINE (7)
LEADING CANDIDATES: The returning starting crew of LT
THE BIG QUESTION: A couple of them. Whoever doesn't win the center job would be the first guard/center off the bench, right? But what about fifth-rounder
And then there's veteran backup right tackle
As they say, it all has to play out in something called training camp.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
THE BIG QUESTION: How can you keep second-rounder
But what if he blocks two field goals in the preseason?
THE BIG QUESTION: There's always a debate every camp. Six or seven backers on the 53? But given that it looks hard for the Bengals not to keep nine defensive linemen and 10 DBs, it looks like six backers and it figures they have to have at least six active on Sunday for effective special teams play.
THE BIG QUESTION: With the ball getting thrown around like names for the royal baby, you have to have at least five corners. Who will they be? There should be quite a roster derby with Kirkpatrick, Ghee and a pair of 2012 fifth-rounders in cornerback
Have the Bengals ever had a stronger trio at one time? Huber is coming off the best season ever by a Bengals punter. Nugent has hit nearly 84 percent of his field goals as a Bengal. Harris hasn't had an unplayable snap since he joined the club four years ago.
That's our 46, which is Harris's uniform jersey in a nice symmetrical finish.
But how would you do it?
If you want to get Hunt on the field, would you dress just five backers? Mays has got backer size and he really came on last year as a key special-teamer.
Or, if you want to get all four tight ends in the game because of the expected increase in double tight-end sets, do you risk going against new Bears guru Marc Trestman with just four corners?
And, would you just feel better with another offensive lineman instead of dressing just seven? But what if you get beat at the gun on a field goal and Hunt is reaching for the same towel as that eighth lineman?
Who are your 46?