ESPN released their prediction for the best 100 NFL players of 2020. Exactly zero Bengals were included on this list.
While the Bengals are coming off of a last-place finish in 2019, they are certainly not devoid of talent.
The Bengals defensive line really should have been represented.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo recently called Geno Atkins an “ageless wonder” and that is the truth. Last season Atkins may not have produced the sack numbers we have been accustomed to, but he is still playing at an elite level. With D.J. Reader joining him on the Bengals’ defensive interior, both could easily be top 100 players in 2020.
And don’t forget about Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap was Pro Football Focus’s 4th highest graded edge rusher of the 2019 season. He had 63 total tackles and 9 sacks last year.
Joe Burrow was not included on the list. Which is fair because no rookies were.
A.J. Green’s absence can also be forgiven due to the uncertainty inherent in returning from an injury, but Tyler Boyd should really be on this list. Boyd has had two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and with a healthy Green and the arrival of Burrow, Boyd is poised for a big season. He certainly should make the list over Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who came in at the 100th spot on the list after an uninspiring 2019 catching ball from backup quarterbacks.
Running back Joe Mixon was another snub. This is no surprise as Mixon never gets the credit he deserves. Mixon won the AFC rushing title in 2018 and still failed to represent the conference in the Pro Bowl. Last season he started slow, but ran for 817 yards in the last 8 games, showing who he truly is as a player.
Mixon is one of the best in the league at his position and easily belongs in the same conversation as players like Dalvin Cook (who was 41st on the list) and Nick Chubb (who came in at 59). Still, Mixon was not mentioned even with players like Aaron Jones (63) and Josh Jacobs (88) making the cut.
The Bengals continue to be disrespected by the national media, but at the end of the day respect must be earned. It’s earned by winning games.
If the Bengals can put together an encouraging 2020 season, players like Mixon, Boyd, Green, Atkins, and Dunlap will get the respect they deserve.