Despite a rough year, there were still some bright spots for the Bengals during the 2017 season. With some promise for the future, a lot of Bengals players put in great individual efforts for the team and that shouldn’t be forgotten as we look to next season. The Bengals need to utilize their best players if they want to make the playoffs next year and there are a bunch of pieces to that shiny puzzle. It was nice getting a decent amount of impact out of the 2017 rookie class after two straight seasons of getting very little from the team’s rookies. On top of that, the normally great Bengals players (looking at your Geno Atkins and A.J. Green) continued their great play.
Here are our awards highlighting the most productive Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.
MVP: Geno Atkins
Since he joined the Bengals, Geno Atkins has been an annual MVP candidate for the team. In the NFL, defensive players rarely win MVP, but Atkins is the perfect example of why they should be considered. Atkins is arguably the most important piece of the Bengals defense by generating pressure on the interior of opposing offensive lines. The ability to get pressure up the middle is deadly in the NFL and key to the Bengals defense. Because of his continued stellar play as a pass rushing defensive tackle, Atkins is the Bengals’ 2017 MVP.
Offensive Player of the Year: A.J. Green
A.J. Green is the clear choice for 2017 offensive player of the year. Green is the heart and soul of the Bengals offense and was the team’s only deep threat for the season as John Ross only played 17 snaps on the year. Despite the fact that Green did not play up to his remarkably high standards, he still performed well enough to earn Offensive Player of the Year. The hope is that with a healthy Ross opposite him in 2018, Green will be able to do even more damage as one of the league’s top wide receivers.
Defensive Player of the Year: William Jackson III
With Geno Atkins winning team MVP, William Jackson III’s season deserves recognition. After missing his entire rookie season and coming into this season fourth on the depth chart, nobody expected much of Jackson in 2017. However, when he finally got the chance, he showed why the Bengals drafted him in the first round. Getting his first real action, Jackson was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and he still has room to grow. He’s potentially the best thing about the 2017 season and offers a lot of hope for the future.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Mixon
Mixon was the easy pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He got off to a rough start this season, largely due to poor offensive line play, but during the last few games he played, he showed exactly why the Bengals selected him in the second round. Mixon was able to create yards on plays that should have been blown up in the backfield. His combination of power and elusiveness make him extraordinarily dangerous and he should be a big asset to Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense in the future. Pairing him with Giovani Bernard gives the Bengals one of the most talented backfields in the NFL.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Carl Lawson
The Bengals experimented with Carl Lawson at linebacker over the summer, but quickly changed his position back to defensive end when they realized the impact that he could have at his natural position. With his already very refined technique and great athleticism he was instantly a productive pass rusher for the Bengals. Lawson should be a consistent Bengals pass rusher for a long time and has the potential to be a double digit sack artist for years. His 8.5 sacks this season were a great accomplishment as he finished just shy of Carlos Dunlap’s Bengals rookie record of 9.5 sacks.