The Cincinnati Bengals are a very young team littered with plenty of potential stars, so it is understandable that some players don’t get as much hype as others.
One of those players is linebacker Logan Wilson who may end up being in charge of communicating plays through the defense in his second season.
ESPN’s Football Outsiders ranked Wilson as the fourth most likely young player who could “rank up” in 2021:
The first pick of the third round of the draft in 2020, Wilson started seeing heavy snaps in Week 5 but was knocked out of action by a high ankle sprain over the last three weeks of the season. The combination of the slow start and the injury is the only reason he’s still eligible for the list. Wilson showcased some intriguing blitz skills and paired a solid athletic profile with a great year as a run defender for Wyoming in 2019.
Letting Nick Vigil walk in free agency opened up yet another void, and Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither were drafted into it without much help. Of the two, Wilson has the skill set to help on run downs more, but the blitzing and coverage skills are solid selling points for Wilson as well... Wilson figures to be the best linebacker on the field this year for Cincinnati, with a chance of developing into something between Nick Kwiatkoski and a smaller Dont’a Hightower.
This list may look familiar to Bengals fans as Geno Atkins was once on this list before breaking out. Wilson seems like a safe bet here given he will have ample opportunity in 2021. He is already been designated the linebacker with the radio helmet, which is a very important job. It also indicates that he should be on the field almost every down.
Wilson flashed plenty of playmaking ability in 2020, but it was really hard to get a good read on just how well he could play considering how beat up the defensive line in front of him was. It is almost easy to forget him when talking about players like Jessie Bates and Sam Hubbard who are young established players or new players like Mike Hilton or Trey Hendrickson. However, Wilson’s athletic profile coming out of Wyoming still gives him a chance to be one of the best middle linebackers in the AFC North.
Wilson also has the ability to provide something the Bengals haven’t had in quite some time at the linebacker position, the ability to cover. He came up with two interceptions and three passes defended in over 300 defensive snaps last season as a rookie. He could do even more damage if this defensive line is able to get any pressure this season.
Another underrated facet of Wilson’s game is his ability to both blitz and spy the quarterback. When you have to face Lamar Jackson twice a season, you need a defender who can make sure he doesn’t turn a broken play into a huge gain. He also recorded a sack in 2020, which shouldn’t be too much of a rarity going forward in his career.
Hopefully the Football Outsiders can add Wilson to the list of names they were right about a couple of years from now. Cincinnati desperately needs some stability from the linebacker position after struggling there for years. Wilson has all the makings to be a productive, modern linebacker.