Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Of all the most neglected positions on the Cincinnati Bengals roster, most fans would likely agree that safety has been the "red-headed stepchild" of the team. For so long, the Bengals have felt comfortable with older, injury-prone players whose best days were behind them or with players who wouldn't have much of a shot at a starting role on other teams. To make things worse, the Bengals repeatedly passed up opportunities to draft safeties with one of their early draft picks. Granted, there were other needs and they did a good job at filling those needs, but the safety position was left to has-been's and never-will-be's.

To continue our training camp preview, we take a look at the Bengals safeties.

Player Age Season Acquired School Taylor Mays 24 3rd '10 Draft (2nd) USC           '11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Run D '11 PFF Pass D '11 PFF Pass Rush '12 Salary* -2.0 -0.8 -1.3 0.1 $540,000

This is likely going to be the biggest year of Mays' career so far. He was drafted in the second round by the 49ers in hopes that he would become a future starter in the secondary but failed to meet expectations and was eventually traded to the Bengals for next to nothing. Bengals fans were high on the hard-hitting safety heading into the '10 draft and many are excited about him now, including coaches. It's likely, with the team's decision to release Chris Crocker and the fact that they didn't use a high draft pick on a safety that they'll be starting Mays to start the season.

If Mays lives up to his pre-draft hype, he could easily be the steal of the century for the Bengals. However, if he fails to live up to expectations, he could just be the next strong safety in a long line of recent disappointments.

Player Age Season Acquired School Reggie Nelson 28 6th '07 Draft (1st) Florida           '11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Run D '11 PFF Pass D '11 PFF Pass Rush '12 Salary* -3.1 -3.8 1.5 1.5 $1.45 million

Nelson was one of the biggest free agents for the Bengals to re-sign heading into the 2012 season. After being considered a bust in Jacksonville, he revitalized his career in Cincinnati by being a hard-hitting free safety who was also able to hold his own in pass coverage and helped strengthen a secondary that was weakened by the injury to Leon Hall. Nelson drew interest from other teams, but in the end it was the Bengals that Nelson chose over the New York Jets, who were also trying hard to sign him.

With a healthier and more talented core of cornerbacks and a more talented strong safety, Nelson has a chance to go all out and really show what he can do in 2012. Nelson has a guaranteed spot as the starting free safety for the 2012 Bengals, the only question is who will be with him in the secondary.

The other safeties that are currently on the roster have literally little to none experience in the NFL. Jeromy Miles, who is in his third season in the NFL, only played in four snaps in 2011 and Robert Sands, who was drafted last year out of West Virginia, didn't do much more outside of special teams. The other two safeties on the roster are both rookies. First, there is Tony Dye, an undrafted free agent out of UCLA, and then there is George Iloka, who was the team's fifth-round pick in 2012 out of Boise State.

While it's likely that the starters will be Mays and Nelson, there's always an outside shot that the Bengals will make a surprise move by signing a veteran safety and changing things up a little. With the way that has worked out for them in the past, though, especially at strong safety, it wouldn't surprise me to see them stick with who they have right now.

 

Check out other great articles at 49erslines.com.

var switchTo5x=true; stLight.options({publisher:''});
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Robert Griffin III benched by Redskins for McCoy

Lovie Smith: 2-9 Bucs are still in playoff contention

UCLA QB Brett Hundley likely to enter NFL draft

Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for Sunday's game

Miller to Oregon transfer rumor originates on Reddit

Valencia FC ditches bat logo amidst DC Comics challenge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Paul Pierce: Celtics' Big Three was like 'Holy Trinity'

Cubs reportedly offer Jon Lester more than $135 million

Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2015

Jeremy Maclin not happy with Riley Cooper’s contract remark

Broncos reportedly waive kicker McManus, sign Connor Barth

Report: Browns not committed to Brian Hoyer long-term

Derrick Rose leaves game with hamstring tightness

Rockies pitcher takes shot at former Astros pitcher

WATCH: Paul Pierce signs autograph during game

Jeremy Hill asks great question about alma mater LSU

NBA rookie rankings after 1st month of 2014-15 season

Statistic about Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler very revealing

Aaron Rodgers blasts those who accused him of trolling Vikings

The century's 10 most one-sided college football rivalries

WATCH: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NBA's first month

Sherman mocks NFL media policies in press conference

Why Packers' offense continues to evolve despite success

'Fire Idzik' billboard updated with suggestion for Jets owner

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

What has Masai Ujiri built in Toronto?

How L.A. should replace Hanley

Lester, Red Sox still talking contract

Why each NFL team should be thankful

Could Kentucky beat the 76ers?

Greatest college football rivalries

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.