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The Hidden Gem for the 2023 Cincinnati Bengals

Andrei Iosivas

When a team drafts a player on day three of the NFL Draft or picks them up as an undrafted free agent, expectations are rightfully low. Many of these players will never make an NFL roster, and many more will spend their careers having a minimal impact. But hitting on players like this is paramount for teams with championship aspirations. 

For the Cincinnati Bengals, this was seen last season with the selection of Cordell Volson in the fourth round. He would surprisingly win the starting left guard position out of camp and go on to start every game for the team as they made a second straight appearance in the AFC Championship. 

It is very difficult to predict which player, if any, may take this trajectory in a given year. Still, looking for the right opportunities and talents of a specific player can signal what might come. For the Bengals’ 2023 draft class, the strongest contender for a hidden gem is wide receiver Andrei Iosivas.

Andrei Iosivas is the Hidden Gem for the 2023 Cincinnati Bengals

Iosivas History

Iosivas (Yo-SHE-vas) was a little-known name in high school. He only received offers from Princeton and Dartmouth, opting for the former. He was a redshirt as a freshman and then missed the entire 2020 season due to the Ivy League canceling play due to COVID. In 2021, he broke out with 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. He followed that up with an Ivy League-leading 943 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. This earned him First-Team All-American and put his name in the conversation among draft scouts. He also was named team captain for his senior year.

Outside of football, Iosivas was a star in track and field for Princeton. He was All-Ivy League three times as well as being named a first-team All-American in the heptathlon

How He Fits In

It’s no secret the Bengals have one of, if not the best, receiving corps in the league. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd form a versatile trio that causes headaches for opposing defenses. Behind them, role players like Trenton Irwin and Trent Taylor have stepped up when called upon. The Bengals passing attack has been at the forefront of their success over the last two years. It all adds up to make a sixth-round receiver a difficult player to project onto the roster.

It helps when that sixth-round receiver has elite athleticism. Iosivas’ 9.96 RAS places him among the absolute top athletes at the position, which makes sense given his background in track. He is explosive, fast, and has the size (6’3”) that can be hard to find at wide receiver in today’s NFL.

Iosivas’ specialty is in the vertical passing game. That’s an area he could help spark for the Bengals. In 2022, the team produced 54 plays of 20+ yards and 10 plays of 40+ yards, good for 12th in the league. This was a notable drop from 2021, where they had 63 20+ yard plays and 16 40+, which was second in the league. While the passing offense was still very successful, the ability to inject a little more explosiveness will make the offense all the more dangerous. 

Injuries are also unfortunately part of the game. Ja’Marr Chase missed five games last season and Higgins missed two but also exited early in two others. Iosivas offers a slight bit of insurance as an outside, big-bodied receiver should either miss time this season.

In Conclusion

While Iosivas is not a lock to make an impact as a rookie, he profiles as a receiver that should see some snaps in certain packages. He will have a lot of work to do to improve his game and prove to coaches he deserves to play over Irwin and Taylor. But the team should be excited about the mismatches he can create from the fourth or fifth receiver spot. The athleticism he brings is rare for a late-round find and the offensive minds in Cincinnati will look to take advantage. 

Main Image: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK


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