The Bengals roster is often criticized. While the team certainly has holes and lacks depth, their top end talent is impressive. It is not just known stars like Geno Atkins and A.J. Green. The Bengals have some young talent who are among the league’s best, but have not received the national attention that they would have if they played for another team.
Here are five Bengals who could be going to their first Pro Bowl in 2020.
Mixon really should have made the Pro Bowl last year. He led the AFC in rushing and was still snubbed. The Bengals’ new offense promises to focus on the play-action-pass and run game, which would obviously benefit him.
Although he will still have to deal with an inadequate offensive line, Mixon should thrive in Zac Taylor’s system. He will build on a stellar 2018 and looks to have a great impact in the pass game as well.
Jackson had an incredible 2017 and played very well down the stretch in 2018. There are a lot of very good cornerbacks in the league, but if he can get back to his 2017 form, he’ll have little trouble establishing himself as one of the league’s elite at the position.
In his first two games against the Steelers in 2017, Jackson allowed zero receptions and knocked down four of eight passes intended for Antonio Brown. And this was when the Bengals’ kept their cornerbacks on one side and didn’t have them shadow a specific receiver.
If Jackson is asked to cover an opponents’ top receiver week-in and week-out, it could help him get the national recognition that he deserves. Shutting down Odell Beckham Jr. for two games would be a very nice feather in his cap.
Lawson had 8.5 sacks in a limited number of reps during his rookie season. If the Bengals unleash him in 2019, he could be put up 10 or more sacks. He has great speed off of the edge and an incredible hump move.
Lawson has elite pass rush skills. If the Bengals can figure out how to get the most out of him in 2019 he will go off.
There were some very good safeties in the 2018 NFL Draft. Much of the attention focused on Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick. James is a true roll down safety who runs like a defensive back, but hits like a linebacker. Fitzpatrick can play safety and corner, but does his best work in the slot.
Bates was the best deep-field safety in that draft. While this got overlooked in the draft process, it showed itself in his rookie year.
He started every game of his rookie season and recorded three interceptions. With the benefit of experience and a full offseason, Bates should only improve in 2019.
In the absence of Green last season, Boyd stepped up big time. His breakout year involved 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns, all career highs.
As he enters a contract year, Boyd is likely to thrive in a new offense. Better play calling and a healthy supporting cast will help Boyd as he likely steps into a role similar to that of Cooper Kupp under the new coaching staff.