The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a tremendous and unexpected run to the Super Bowl and are looking to get back again this year. With Joe Burrow at the helm of one of the NFL’s most explosive offensive weapon groups, the Bengals will
QB: Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen, Jake Browning
Explanation: Joe Burrow is the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and for good reason. He is coming off leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl where he threw for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was every bit of what the Bengals were hoping for when they took him number one overall in 2020. He did this with an offensive line that ranked 20th in the league in 2021. Going into 2022, the offensive line is much improved and all of Burrow’s favorite targets are back. There is no reason this offensive shouldn’t be one of the best in the NFL next season. Expect Joe Burrow to only elevate his play in 2022 and continue leading this very explosive Cincinnati offense.
RB: Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams, Shermari Jones
Explanation: Joe Mixon is a very talented back who had over 1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns a season ago. He was able to accomplish all that with below average offensive line play. The offensive line is much improved going into 2022 so there should be no reason in Mixon’s play diminishing. Perine is a quality RB2 and can take some touches from Mixon without a huge drop off. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry a season ago. Chris Evans should have a more increased role as well going into year two. He played well with the limited Carrie’s he got in 2021. This is another quality position group for the Bengals headed in to 2022.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Mike Thomas, Stanley Morgan, Trent Taylor, Trenton Irwin, Pooka Williams Jr, Heiligh, Kwamie Lassiter II, Kendric Pryor, Jack Sorensen
Explanation: The Bengals starting receivers were very close to being a three, 1,000 yard receiving unit a season ago. Boyd was roughly 170 yards from eclipsing that number. That goes to show how explosive this unit is. Ja’Marr Chase showed out in his rookie season having 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is one of the best receivers in the game. Higgins is another high-quality receiver with over 1,000 yards in 2021. Boyd is as good as a WR3 option as there is in the NFL. Barring any injuries, this is arguably the best receiving unit there is in the NFL and will be a nightmare for opposing AFC North opponents.
TE: Hayden Hurst, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox, Thaddeus Moss
Explanation: Hurst comes over from Atlanta where he had a very productive season in 2020 with 571 yards receiving, but only played 13 games last year and had 221 yards. The Bengals lost their TE1 option from a season ago in CJ Uzomah, so Hurst comes in to fill that role. They hope he can stay healthy and be the 2020 Hayden Hurst. This position group is definitely not as star studded as the rest of this offense but there is production and help to be had. Drew Sample might also get his role extended a bit to how it was in 2020. There is potential in this unit and not one that should be counted out.
OL: Jonah Williams, Jackson Carman, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, D’Ante Smith, Cordell Volson, Trey Hill, Hakeem Adeniji, Isaiah Prince, Lamont Gaillard, Desmond Noel, Devin Cochran, Ben Brown
Explanation: Karras and Cappa are new to the interior of this offensive line, and both are massive upgrades. Karras had a 72.4 offensive rating last season and Cappa had a 71.3. La’el Collins is also new to the outside at tackle, and he is a huge get as he is a massive loss to the Cowboys. He had an 80.2 rating a season ago. Jonah Williams is also a solid a tackle who had a good season for the Bengals a year ago but gave up 8 sacks last season and will need to bring that number down. The Bengals front office had a goal in mind this off-season and it was upgrading this unit and they did just that. On paper, this is a much-improved group and should only help take this offense to the next level. They will need to get their rhythm together in training camp, but this looks to be a very solid group.
DL: Sam Hubbard, DJ Reader, BJ Hill, Trey Hendrickson, Cam Sample, Tyler Shelvin, Josh Tupou, Joseph Ossai, Zachary Carter, Khalid Kareem, Wyatt Hubert, Noah Spence
Explanation: The Hendrickson signing got a lot of flak a year ago since he only had the one good season in New Orleans prior. He did a good job at gushing those negative words as he followed it up with 14 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in 2021. He was dominant off the edge and is right up there as one of the better pass rushers in the league. Hubbard is no slouch on the other end as he had 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble last season. Hendrickson and Hubbard are two high quality edge rushers that have the ability to get after the quarterback fast. In a division with high quality quarterbacks, edge rushing is even more important. On the interior, the Bengals lose Ogunjobi but bring back Reader who is a run stuffing DT that also chipped in with 2 sacks of his own. BJ Hill is a very good pass rushing DT who had 5.5 sacks a season ago. This is a solid group that is going to cause opposing offensive lines trouble in 2022.
LB: Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Joe Bachie, Markus Bailey, Keandre Jones, Clay Johnston, Carson Wells, Clarence Hicks
Explanation: Wilson brought good production last season with 100 tackles and 4 interceptions. He has some room to improve as he is still a young player but should make another jump in year three. Pratt had 91 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries last year and is a solid middle backer. Davis-Gaither only played 9 games a season ago so he will need to bounce back and recover in 2022. This was a position group hit hard by injuries in 2021 so staying healthy will be a big factor to their overall success in 2022. This is a group with no real flashy or star players but quality NFL starters that can produce at a high level.
CB: Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, Mike Hilton, Cam Taylor-Britt, Tre Flowers, John Brannon, Jalen Davis
Explanation: Awuzie is a solid corner who is a veteran and had a 74.5 cover grade last season. Apple had some big plays in big games last year but for the overall season he had his moments of struggle. He had an overall defensive grade of 60.5. Mike Hilton is a quality corner who has a played a lot of football in his 5 seasons. Altogether, this is a solid position group and one that is needed in a division with explosive quarterbacks and talented receivers. It’s good to have experience at the cornerback position and this unit has it. 2022 should be another solid year for this group.
S: Jessie Bates III, Dacron Hill, Vonn Bell, Tycen Anderson, Brandon Wilson, Michael Thomas, Trayvon Henderson
Explanation: This grade is almost an incomplete due to the confusion around Jessie Bates III and his future with the Bengals. Bates showed to be a leader of the defense last season and is under the contract tag this season. He wants an extension and is threatening to sit out if not traded or given one that matches his play on the field. So, it is unsure at this time if he will be with the Bengals once the 2022 season kicks off. Regardless, he is a very talented safety that helps the Bengals defense a ton. Another headline of this position group is first round draft pick, Dax Hill. Hill was a standout for a college playoff Michigan Team and should step in right away in this secondary. He has the versatility to play safety, outside corner, or even nickel so it will be interesting to see how Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo uses him. Bell is another quality safety. He had 97 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception last season. This is an upgraded position group if Bates is to stay. If he is gone, Hill will really need to step up and play as a rookie.