The Cincinnati Bengals’ roster has a healthy mix of veterans and youngsters on it. Of course, the overall makeup of it will change as the next couple of months pass, but there’s no doubt that the team will be relying on a variety of players with differing NFL backgrounds.
A couple of position groups have players with a decent amount of experience, but others are filled with players on vastly different planes of experience. Here are some of the positions filled with the most experience on the current 2018 Bengals’ roster.
This position group is both top and bottom-heavy, in terms of the amount of experience among the players. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson have an accrued 17 NFL seasons behind them, and both still seem set for prominent roles this year.
However, there are three rookies (Sam Hubbard, Gaelin Elmore, Ja’Von Roland-James) and a second year player (Jordan Willis), backing those two up at this point. Hubbard is stepping in for Chris Smith, who left for the Browns in free agency this offseason, and figures to have a prominent role.
I suppose we could add second-year man Carl Lawson to this group, as he’s primarily going to be rushing off of the edge, but he is listed as an outside linebacker. In a similar vein, Chris Baker is somehow listed as an end on the team’s website, but at 320 pounds, we’re figuring he’s set for playing at interior spots on the defensive line.
As it is with end, the defensive tackle spot is littered with both veterans and youngsters. The aforementioned Baker is entering his 10th season, while Geno Atkins is coming up on his ninth NFL campaign.
Who will be stepping up on the interior along with Atkins is a bit of an enigma. Baker has some upside, even though he’s at the end of his career and on a team-friendly deal, while Andrew Billings (third season), Ryan Glasgow (second season) and Andrew Brown (rookie) should all vie for spots and playing time this year.
Second-year man Josh Tupou has immense size and is built for the rugged AFC North, but he’s dealing with some issues. He was just placed on probation and court-mandated community service after an offseason arrest.
As the Bengals head into the season, it appears as if A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell will continue to be their top two wideouts on the roster. Those two veterans have 15 accrued seasons between them, bringing stability to the position group.
Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson and Cody Core are entering their third seasons, while Josh Malone, Kermit Whitfield and John Ross are entering their second year. Rookies Auden Tate, Ka’Raun White and Davonte Boyd will also be clamoring for roster spots.
Even though the Bengals let Adam Jones go earlier this offseason, their cornerback crew still has a decent amount of experience. Dre Kirkpatrick is entering his seventh season and is the most tenured player in the group.
Darqueze Dennard is entering his critical fifth season, while the team is hoping for a Pro Bowl campaign from third-year man William Jackson. Josh Shaw is entering a critical fourth year with the club, while KeiVarae is entering his third season.
Dual fifth round picks from 2018, Davontae Harris and Darius Phillips are already impressing in OTAs, so they’ll be pushing guys like Sojourn Shelton and Tony McRae, who have been around these parts the past couple of seasons.