The life of a sixth-round NFL draft pick is not simple. It’s a battle just to make a team’s 53-man roster. It gets even harder for a wide receiver, specifically one that goes to a team with depth at the position. Such was the case for Cody Core, the 199th overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2016, who is putting in the work to get more passes thrown to him during his sophomore season in the NFL.
Since 2010, there have been 35 receivers drafted in the sixth round. Looking over those names, you can find one superstar (Antonio Brown) and a few potential notable names like New York’s Quincy Enunwa and ex-Bengal Cobi Hamilton. A sixth-round wideout has to put in the grunt work and climb a depth chart, which is what Core is starting to do as Cincinnati beings its OTAs.
Core, 23, has earned the praise of his fellow teammates this month. “He can run and he’s going to do all the work going in there blocking. Cody has a chance to be something special,” Adam Jones told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
The Ole Miss product could be feeling the heat of the Bengals late-April draft selections. After surprising a lot of analysts by taking Washington speedster John Ross ninth overall, the Bengals went wideout again in the fourth, drafting Tennessee’s Josh Malone.
Over a two-day span, Core realized the short-lived, here-today-gone-tomorrow life of an NFL player. Despite past success, nothing is guaranteed.
But it could’ve been worse for Core going into 2017. Had A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert stayed healthy last season, it’s likely he would’ve been glued to the sidelines all year. That would’ve made him a lot easier to part ways with this offseason after the Bengals drafted two receivers in the first four rounds.
But Green went down with a season-ending hamstring tear. Eifert followed suit just a few weeks later, landing on injured reserve. Core’s first professional catch went for 50 yards in a win over Philadelphia, and he finished the year averaging 11.8 yards per reception.
In a Christmas Eve loss to Houston, Core caught a season-high eight balls for 39 yards, then used his own burners to torch the Ravens for a 31-yard reception in the season-finale.
Core is fighting hard to be a part of the 53-man roster once again. But it leaves others wondering who the odd man out might be if Cincinnati only goes with six receivers?
Green, Tyler Boyd, and Ross are all locks to be in the rotation. This leaves Malone, Core, Alex Erickson and newly re-signed Brandon LaFell to fight for the final three spots. Ultimately, though, Cincinnati could sacrifice at another position to roster seven receivers. That would seem to make sense with Erickson maintaining kick-return duties.