The folks at Pro Football Focus just unveiled their picks for each NFL franchise’s top three players to build around.
For the Cincinnati Bengals, there’s 1000% no debate that Joe Burrow is the top guy for what hopes to be many years to come.
But what about the other two guys to build this team around?
While many will say All-Pro Jessie Bates is an easy choice, safeties don’t have the same value in today’s NFL as positions like wide receiver, offensive tackle, or defensive end. An argument could be made for left tackle Jonah Williams to be one of the three given how important he is to keeping Burrow upright, though injury concerns make Williams a hard player to call a cornerstone piece right now.
Plus, Bates is arguably the Bengals’ best overall player while being just 24 years old, so he should still have a lot of great football ahead of him, hopefully in Cincinnati as he’s currently in his final year of his rookie deal.
As for the third guy, PFF went with rookie wide receiver and fifth-overall draft pick Ja’Marr Chase. He’s certainly expected to be a cornerstone piece moving forward, but he also has yet to play a down of football in over a year after opting out of the 2020 college season.
Here’s what PFF had to say about their three picks.
QB Joe Burrow
Burrow had been sacked 32 times (second in NFL) and hit 43 times (fourth in NFL) at the time of his season-ending injury. It was far from an optimal situation, but he still managed to put together an impressive season, particularly in the short and intermediate ranges. He and Chase, the fifth-overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, are the two most logical pieces to build around on offense. That duo combined for 14.7 yards per attempt and a 141.3 passer rating in LSU’s 2019 championship season.
Bates is one of the league’s best free safeties, fresh off a 90.1 PFF grade last season. He’s the star of a secondary that Cincinnati has worked to rebuild in free agency the past few seasons.
Other guys who deserve to be in the conversation include wide receiver Tee Higgins, defensive end Sam Hubbard, and running back Joe Mixon.
Who do you think the Bengals’ three cornerstone pieces should be? Let us know in the comments section!