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.
Our list rolls on as we recognize the final player before the teens in our rankings. The beginning of our countdown featured a prominent special teamer in Brandon Wilson, and our latest entry features the lone pure specialist of the list.
Taking the last spot in the 20s is one of the oldest players on the team, has played football in Cincinnati for his entire life, and remains an above player at his position.
No. 20: Kevin Huber, punter
Kevin Huber was dropping on Sunday pic.twitter.com/dugR27fEZz— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) September 10, 2019
Since 2009, Kevin Huber has been the punter and holder for the Bengals. From Shayne Graham, to Mike Nugent, and now to Randy Bullock, Huber has been an illustration of consistency as the second cog in the three-part machine to make field goals and extra points for Cincinnati. But catching snaps by long snapper Clark Harris is just one half of his job, and it’s not the half that he’s known best for.
870 times, Huber has received a long snap from Harris and 866 times, Huber has successfully gotten a punt off of his workhorse left leg. 99.5% of anything is good in this industry.
Since 2013, when Pro Football Focus started tracking punts and when Huber signed his second contract with Cincinnati, only 43% of Huber’s punts have been returned. 45% of his punts have placed the opposing team inside their own red zone. The average (hang) time it takes for his punts to leave the stratosphere has been 4.28 seconds.
Only 7% of his punts have resulted in touchbacks.
2019 saw the Bengals needing to rely more on Huber’s leg in pressing situations with their offense falling flat more times than not, and the 34-year old Cincinnatian did not disappoint. He finished with his highest average net yards punt since 2014 (42.1). Nearly 50% of his punts finished inside the 20-yard line (49.33%) and only 33% of his punts were returned by the opposing team; both are personal bests since 2013.
Even when opposing teams saw fit to return Huber’s punts, they were largely unsuccessful. Returners averaged a mere 5.4 yards per return, a noticeable low compared to years past.
Throughout the offense’s miserable campaign, Huber rarely made things worse and kept the team in games longer than they deserved to be in. While the 0-8 record in close games stings, Huber’s consistent contributions allowed them to remain in that many competitive afternoons in the first place. That’s how effective he was compared to the offense’s ineptitude.
Huber turns 35 in less than a month and is entering the last year of his third contract with the Bengals. If 2020 is anything like 2019, Huber should remain a priority for the Bengals to retain like he’s been for the last decade.
Where do you think Huber should’ve been ranked? Let us know in the comments!