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.
We continue the list at No. 22 with a promising defensive lineman who may be a backup, but he’s still carved out an important role in Cincinnati’s front seven.
No. 22 Josh Tupou, defensive lineman
Better version of the Tupou tacking Lamar Jackson in the open field play, I think literally my favorite play from the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/Ek8ID3JZXL— Jake (@Jake_NFL) May 1, 2020
That play right there was many fans introduction to Josh Tupou. Not many defenders can say they’ve been able to take down Lamar Jackson in the open field, and that list shrinks exponentially when you limit it to defensive tackles. That may have been the most impressive defensive play of last season, which isn’t saying much but still.
Last year was Tupou’s first chance to play in all 16 games, and he even started seven. He still mostly played behind Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings (who is now a Brown), but Tupou fills a very important role as a rotational defensive tackle.
That may not sound like much, but he allows this team to give players like Atkins a chance to catch their breath so they still have their legs late in the game. That isn’t to say Tupou is just a body out there taking up snaps either. His box score may not back it up, but he was fairly disruptive in his limited role. He showed glimmers of a player who had something to build on as well. Pro Football Focus gave him a 73.8 overall grade for 2019.
At only 26-years-old Tupou still has plenty of room to grow as well. He will still only be a backup even with Billings leaving town. Cincinnati went out and landed D.J. Reader to pair with Atkins in the middle. We should still see plenty of opportunities for Tupou to show he is growing. He should be the first defensive tackle off the sideline to give either of those guys a breather.
If Tupou can start turning his handful of flashy plays into consistent disruption then there will be even harder for the Bengals to keep him off the field. He has been one of their better ascending talents over the past few years, but he has been consistently overlooked due to the guys ahead of him. No one should be surprised for even more splash plays for him in 2019 as he is a smart and athletic player with plenty left in the tank.
Plus it is always valuable having a guy to spy Jackson twice a season.