Bengals top division's breakout prospects

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
4:30
PM ET
Many believe the Cincinnati Bengals will be among the breakout teams in 2013. Our friends at Football Outsiders believe the Bengals are tied with the New England Patriots for the most breakout prospects this year.

It's an Insider article, so you'll need a subscription to view the entire top 25Insider. Here are the players who made the list from the AFC North:

4. Cortez Allen, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Allen steps into the starting role left by Keenan Lewis, who signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Football Outsiders: Last year as Pittsburgh's nickelback, Allen allowed 6.3 adjusted yards per pass (12th among cornerbacks) and had a 55 percent adjusted success rate (26th).

7. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Sanu caught four touchdown passes in three games before suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 13. Football Outsiders: He isn't going to explode off the line, and he's not going to streak down the field -- but Sanu is built to beat coverage with his body, not his speed. If scouts are correct, he'll develop into a high-volume, very reliable possession receiver, which fits what the Bengals need to complement A.J. Green.

15. Gino Gradkowski, C, Baltimore Ravens: Gradkowski is favored to beat out A.Q. Shipley for Matt Birk's old starting job. Football Outsiders: At 300 pounds, Gradkowski is a little bit light for an NFL center, but that also means he's very agile and light on his feet, adept at pulls, traps and blocking for screen passes.

18. Brandon Thompson, DT, Bengals: After essentially redshirting his rookie season, Thompson will take the snaps left by backup Pat Sims, who signed with the Oakland Raiders in free agency. Football Outsiders: Thompson is an excellent interior gap stuffer, but he's also adept at an array of pass-rush moves including bull rush, swim and rip. He could eventually develop into the replacement for Domata Peko when Peko's contract ends after the 2014 season.

22. Emmanuel Lamur, OLB, Bengals: He isn't a household name, but he replaced Rey Maualuga in passing situations during minicamp. Football Outsiders: This could be the first step toward taking Maualuga out of the starting lineup entirely, in which case Burfict would move to the middle and Lamur would take the starting job at weakside linebacker.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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