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Bengals Player Rankings: No. 10

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Carl Lawson is the missing piece to one of the most dominant defense lines in the AFC.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Revealing Sam Hubbard as our 12th ranked player on the Bengals’ roster begins our recognition of the Bengals’ defensive line in our rankings. Hubbard is a starter on the defensive line, but doesn’t always play on third down. In fact, the next player on our countdown often takes his spot when the defense needs a stop the most.

No. 10: Carl Lawson, defensive end

That video should be all one needs to see to get excited for Carl Lawson in 2020. After the offseason addition of D.J. Reader, the Bengals defensive line now boasts Reader, Lawson, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to counter offenses in obvious passing downs.

Easily the most unproven of the bunch, Lawson will be entering his fourth season in the league in 2020. The former fourth-round pick has dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout his career, limiting him to just 19 games over the past two seasons.

However, a healthy Lawson is a force. In just 43% of the team’s defensive snaps his first season in Cincinnati, Lawson put up 8.5 sacks. While the sky was the limit from there, injuries set in.

“Lawson tore his ACL as a sophomore, but in his two healthy seasons, last year and his rookie year, he’s got an eye-opening 13.5 sacks in 28 games. So if he can play 14, 15, or 16 games …” Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson wrote.

To build the incentive even more, Lawson will be a free agent after the 2020 season, and he’ll just be 25 years old this season. Nothing screams “stay healthy and dominate opposing quarterbacks” like a few million dollars added to a contract.

Lawson is both shifty and powerful as you can see in the video above. While the jury is still out on whether he can return to the level he showcased his rookie season, Lawson is expected to be one of the major factors for Cincinnati’s defense in 2020.

If everything goes smoothly, this unit, with one of the most dominant front fours in the AFC, could be the backbone for the Bengals.