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.
As our countdown winds down, we get into our final offensive player. Despite not seeing him play a single snap in 2019, we must recognize the offense’s best overall player and arguably the most impactful Bengal over the last decade.
No. 2: A.J. Green, wide receiver
We all need to remember how great A.J. Green still is, injuries be damned.
Green likely could’ve found his way onto the field in 2019 after a brutal ankle injury prior to the season’s commencement. His injury sidelined him the entire season, but by the time his return was near, the Bengals were clearly outside of playoff contention.
An entire missed season didn’t decrease his value though. The Bengals, instead of giving him the long-term deal he craved, placed the franchise tag on him, a one-year deal that’ll be around $18 million.
Green’s place in our rankings is understandable if you’ve been able to see just how dynamic he’s been throughout his career. For most of his time in Cincinnati, Green has been the only viable threat for a Bengals offense that lacked weapons periodically throughout the 2010s.
From his very first game in Week 1 of 2011 to Week 11 of 2016, Green amassed 7,135 of the Bengals’ 22,047 total receiving yardage during that timespan. That’s 32.4% of a passing offense going through one man for over half a decade.
The tail end of that 2016 season is when Green’s durability concerns began to arise, but the former fourth-overall pick has not lost a single step on the field since then. Per Pro Football Focus, he finished in the top 10 in Yards per Route Run in both 2017 and the first half of 2018, the last time we saw him play. He’s only finished outside the top 10 for an entire season once in career when he was a rookie.
Green has been a dominating force from day one, racking up five straight 1,000-yard seasons and seven straight Pro Bowl appearances to start his career. He helped elevate Andy Dalton’s play, allowing the Bengals to win two AFC North titles and getting to the postseason five straight times.
Despite turning 32 years of age later this month and having not played in almost two years, expectations for Green are still sky high.
He’ll be the No. 1 option for the team’s offense. With an uber-accurate Joe Burrow under center, it’d be nice to see Green’s catch percentage get back up to over 60%. He’s only eclipsed that threshold twice in his career.
Green will likely pass Chad Johnson for most receiving touchdowns in team history if he can find the field in 2020. That said, Green has been everything the team has asked, and now it’s time for him to yet again prove his worth.
He’s No. 2 on our list for now, but another down season and Green’s ranking may plummet as stars like Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd start getting into the crux of their careers.