The Cincinnati Bengals are a team in a bit of a flux. The roster features a lot of talented players but heading into this offseason, it certainly needed to get younger at some positions. With free agency and the draft behind us, that is exactly what the Bengals have done. This has led to a lot of concern among Bengals fans about how these younger positions like offensive tackle and linebacker will fare in 2017. With that in mind, let’s examine the five best position groups on the Bengals’ roster heading into the season.
5. Defensive tackle
I flipped back and forth between defensive tackle and safety, but I ended up going with defensive tackle just because of how good Geno Atkins is on his own. There may be a lot of other question marks at defensive tackle behind Atkins, but his effect alone is worthy of the fifth spot on this list. Plus, having promising young nose tackles in Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow, who both hopefully end up being the studs, helps round out this group as a top five unit on the Bengals’ roster.
4. Defensive end
Now, Carlos Dunlap is not as good as Geno Atkins, but I had to put defensive end ahead of defensive tackle because of the Bengals’ newest additions from the draft. Both Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson should be heavily used in a rotation early on in their careers and hopefully both end up being productive players on the opposite end of the line from Dunlap. It will be a fierce camp battle between Will Clarke, Wallace Gilberry and Chris Smith for what may only be one defensive end spot behind Dunlap and the rookies. Though, Lawson could be used at linebacker, too, and is currently listed there, despite primarily playing defensive end in college.
None of the Bengals’ cornerbacks are as good at their positions as Dunlap or Atkins, although Adam Jones has played at a superstar level in the past. The real reason this position takes this spot is because of the absurd depth. Four first round picks, three of whom were the Bengals’ own, a fourth round pick and a third round pick stolen from the Chiefs make up the top of the depth chart. It is altogether a mostly untested group, but one with a lot of potential. Even if the Bengals lost both starting cornerbacks to injuries, there would still be guys who could step up and play admirably.
This is a little bit cheap compared to the other position groups, especially as other teams certainly have more talented quarterbacks. However, quarterback gets a bonus because of how difficult it can be to find a franchise quarterback and as the Bengals have two guys who may qualify for that moniker is fantastic and should be factored in. The difficulty of finding quarterbacks has to be weighed into this list and that is why the combination of Andy Dalton, a solid franchise quarterback and AJ McCarron, one of the best backups in the league and likely a future starter, take the No. 2 spot here.
1. Wide receiver
This should come as a shock to no one. With A.J. Green already considered one of the best wide receivers in the league, this group of wide receivers would beat out many across the league if it was just Green and a bunch of undrafted free agents. Then the Bengals went and added dynamo John Ross in the draft, who will form one of the scariest tandems in the NFL with Green. Throw in a rotation with the solid veteran presence Brandon LaFell and reliable second year slot guy Tyler Boyd and this is an extremely deadly unit and worthy of this top ranking.