The Defensive Line for the Bengals has been a strength of recent years. Fans have had a sense of pride with the ability and focus of putting pressure on opposing QB's. This year will be a test to weather the Organization has continued to develop that focus or allowed it to atrophy. The DE's have a typical stature that is favorable for the scheme that Marvin, Guenther, and Zimmer have instilled. They should be Tall, Lengthy, and Quick with enough Strength to hold the edge and funnel the runner to our LB's. The DT's are split into 2 styles. The first is a Quick and Strong DT to Penetrate and Disrupt pays. The second is a Run Stopping DT to eat up 2 Blockers and pursue down the line of scrimmage, which allows our LB's to be free to flow to the play.
The Current Roster has 6 DE's and 8 DT's. 4 Lineman are coming back from Injuries that put them on IR. The human body is incredible but can only take so much punishment. It is reasonable to rationalize and expect these players to have a dip in productivity or skill. Geathers had an Elbow Injury, Geno Atkins tore his ACL, Devon Still had a Herniated Disk, and Black had a Dislocated Ankle. The loss of Michael Johnson to FA only further hurts the teams Depth. Margus Hunt is in his second year in the NFL and only his 5th year of playing football. Wallace Gilberry is a bit undersized for the style of team prefers and it would be reasonable to question if he is able to carry the load or is best at being a rotational player. Will Clarke is a rookie with some considerable talent however should take some time to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL. The question around Carlos Dunlop will be if he is able to produce with the loss of a talent around him. Geno's ACL injury should hinder his effectiveness either in speed, strength, or stamina and Michael Johnson's absence will allow opposing offensive lines to focus on Dunlop. Domata Peko can eat blockers but not for a full game. He needs someone behind him to wear down opposing lineman. If anyone has noticed guards or centers getting on Maualuga towards the end of games especially in the playoffs, largely it's someone who came off a double of Peko because only 1 was needed to block him. Brandon Thompson has been effective in subbing in last year and should continue to develop as an effective run stopper. Devon Still was supposed to be a pass rusher like Geno, but has been plagued with injuries and has been underwhelming. David King is another player that needs to continue to develop. Having the frame needed for a DE but needing to add strength and consistency. Christo Bilukidi is a player from a small school and has been in the league for 3 years with very little production. Larry Black is a big body coming off a dislocated ankle, so there are question marks on how it will hold up under his 312 pound frame. Zach Minter is another small school guy with potential pass rush measurable: quick off the snap and shined versus lower competition. Ogemdi Nwagbuo has been in the league for 4 years and hasn't amassed to much in those years.
The Defense of the Bengals is largely dependent on the Defensive Line. Even though the team stayed relatively intact in this position set, when taking in consideration the severity of injuries and reliance on rotational depth chart that the full picture becomes clear. A struggling D-Line will allow running lanes to form and a wear and tear on LB's and S trying to stop the floodgates. An anemic pass rush will put more pressure on LB's to be blitzed and CB's to stick to WR's like glue. Overall players like Clarke, Hunt, King look to be a year away from being key contributors and developing into solid NFL lineman. The Aging Geathers and Injury plagued Still are in a make or break year. Finally the weight of the Team is on Geno to be healthy and perform because there isn't another interior lineman on this team that can create a pass rush.