Finishing 4-11-1 in 2020, the Bengals suffered through another tough season especially after the prosperous Joe Burrow went down with a traumatizing knee injury.
Many remain that do not see the potential in this young team. However, adding Burrow’s former teammate at LSU, Ja’Marr Chase, with the fifth overall pick to the plethora of talented receivers the Bengals already have in Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Auden Tate could make for one of the more dynamic offenses in the league. Not to mention a healthy Joe Mixon in the backfield who is a capable 1,000+ yard rusher.
The big concern that the NFL world still continues to question is the quality of the offensive line and there could be backlash still in passing on Oregon tackle Penei Sewell in the draft. But, hiring offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who has an excellent track record, plus the additions of veteran Riley Reiff and the second round pick and Fairfield, Ohio product Jackson Carman out of Clemson could be game-changing moves. During his collegiate career at Clemson, Carman played 1,934 snaps throughout 40 career games. He was stout for the Tigers, playing against the best of the best. Carman played against Ohio State and Alabama each twice over his three-years at Clemson. Cincinnati also added other lineman later in the draft in D’Ante Smith from East Carolina and center Trey Hill from Georgia while also re-signing guard Quinton Spain. If Jonah Williams continues to take strides in the right direction, he could also become a centerpiece for the Bengals line after they selected him in the first round in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Additionally, the Bengals went all out on the defensive side of the ball through the draft and free agency this off-season to boost the pass rush, which ranked 29th in the league, and limit chunk plays that the defense often gave up.
Notable moves include:
- DE – Trey Hendrickson (Four years, $60 Million)
- Edge – Joseph Ossai (3rd Round, Texas)
- CB – Chidobe Awuzie (3 years, $21.75 Million)
- CB – Mike Hilton (4 years, $24 million)
- DT – Larry Ogunjobi (1 year, $6.2 Million)
- S – Ricardo Allen (1 year, $1.5 Million)
- CB – Eli Apple (1 year, $1.2 Million)
- DE – Cameron Sample (4th Round, Tulane)
- DT – Tyler Shelvin (4th Round, LSU)
Ultimately, Cincinnati will have its ups and downs throughout this season. With high-level talent on the offense however, critical replacements to the offensive line, and the new key additions to the defense, the Bengals have the potential to shock many if they can remain healthy. Cincinnati may be a dark horse come January.