Running back figures to be one of the biggest strengths for the 2019 Bengals.
After all, Joe Mixon led the AFC in rushing yards last season, despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. His backup, Giovani Bernard, is still one of the best pass-catching backs in football, so the combination of those two alone makes this backfield a formidable one.
Then you’ve got a pair of promising sixth-round rookies in Rodney Anderson and Trayveon Williams. Those were two of the best backs in college football when healthy, so it’s fair to think one of them will rise up and be a solid third running back.
Even so, SB Nation’s ranking of all 32 NFL backfields did not give nearly enough respect to Cincinnati, who came in at No. 20. Ahead of them were the Eagles (Jordan Howard/Corey Clement), Lions (Kerryon Johnson/Theo Riddick) and Raiders (Josh Jacobs/Jalen Richard).
The Bengals simply should not be behind all three of those teams, and you could make a good case they should be closer to the top 10 than the 20th spot.
Heck, you could make an argument for the Bengals’ backfield being as good as the Bears’ fifth-ranked backfield, which features Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis and David Montgomery.
Perhaps this ranking is factoring in how much success SB Nation thinks the Bengals’ backfield will have while playing behind a shaky offensive line at best. Sure, the unit improved its overall talent this offseason, but they also got a big downgrade from Frank Pollack to Jim Turner as the offensive line coach.
Still, the Bengals’ running backs deserve more respect than they’re getting.