With the summer in full swing and NFL training camps less than two months away now, we gathered our Cincy Jungle staff to rank the top 25 Bengals of the 2020 season.
This ranking is simply who we believe are the 25 best Bengals heading into next season. It includes veterans and rookies alike, though it obviously is more favorable of players who’ve actually played snaps in the NFL, so don’t expect guys like Joe Burrow to be a top-five player right off the bat.
For a recap of the list, check out our stream here.
Up first is a player who had a mini-breakout season in 2020 thanks to his impact on special teams.
No. 25: Brandon Wilson, safety/kickoff returner
Brandon Wilson wasn’t expected to have much of a role on the 2019 Bengals roster. In fact, he was in a hard-fought battle just to secure one of the final spots in a deep defensive back group.
However, Wilson was able to secure his spot thanks to his impact on special teams, which is critical for any player who isn’t a starter.
Originally a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Wilson recorded 18 tackles and two passes defensed on defense in 2019, as well as six tackles on special teams.
But his ability as a game-breaking returner was what helped him stand out, as he led the NFL with 31.3-yard kickoff return average on 20 returns, including a 92-yarder for a touchdown in Game 6 vs. the Ravens.
Unfortunately, special teams was the only area Wilson could make a positive impact, as he struggled in the limited playing time he got at safety. He recorded a 45.6 Pro Football Focus grade in 2019, one of the worst marks of any Bengal.
Now to be fair to Wilson, he’s still getting used to playing safety. While in college at Houston, Wilson played offense, defense and special teams. He was mainly a corner in college but moved to safety in the NFL. Some thought he could actually wind up playing running back in the pros, but he’s stuck to defense thus far.
This offseason, Wilson was a restricted free agent, but the Bengals eventually re-signed him, so 2020 is currently the final year of his contract.
Looking ahead, Wilson should have his roster spot safely secured as one of the NFL’s top returners, and the hope is he’ll improve enough on defense to make a positive impact there in what should be another limited workload with Vonn Bell, Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams taking most of the safety snaps.
Do you think Brandon Wilson is one of the Bengals’ 25 best players? Sound off in the comments section!