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Bengals Player Rankings: No. 14

Another free agent addition from this offseason cracks our list as we get closer and closer to the top 10.

NFL: NOV 11 Saints at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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 countdown has hit a large stretch of defensive players, and we have yet another defensive back to unveil. He’s also one the six former Ohio State Buckeyes on the Bengals roster, which happens to be the most on a single NFL roster.

No. 14: Vonn Bell, safety

It’s almost fitting that Bell is ranked one spot above Shawn Williams, considering the front office signed him to take Williams’ starting role at strong safety. Attaching just a single position next to Bell’s name, however, wouldn’t exactly be fair.

Versatility is Bell’s game. In his four years with the New Orleans Saints, he has played over 3,600 snaps on defense. Here is how that looks when you separate his positional alignments (data via Pro Football Focus):

Vonn Bell Snaps By Position

2019 500 237 112 77 24
2018 261 290 199 62 52
2017 240 372 167 131 27
2016 391 216 171 72 38

Percentage-wise, this equates to:

  • 38.25% Free safety
  • 30.64% Box
  • 17.83% Slot corner
  • 9.4% D-line
  • 3.87% Wide corner

And in a game where Bell would be on the field for 60 snaps, this equates to:

  • 23 Free safety snaps
  • 18 Box snaps
  • 11 Slot corner Snaps
  • 6 D-line snaps
  • 2 Wide corner snaps

Versatility is only a positive attribute if the player is competent at the various positions he plays. Bell is a starting-level defensive back in a traditional safety alignment, but he’s a true asset the closer he is to the line of scrimmage.

Don’t let his size (5-11, 205) fool you; Bell is a menace in the box. His highest-graded seasons in overall defense and coverage came in 2017 and 2018, and it’s not a coincidence that he played more in the box than as a deep safety during those years.

Bell has the hips to match up with tight ends and tightly-split slot receivers; as well as a combination of power and vision that makes him one of the better run-defending safeties in the league. His average seasonal grade in that area from PFF is 81.1, with three seasons graded higher than 85. He’s ideal as an overhang defender who can act as a traditional linebacker, and provides immediate value at both positions for the Bengals.

It’s easy to get excited about the Swiss Army Knife that is Bell, but we believe his ranking here to be just. Where would you rank him? Let us know in the comments!