While they didn’t come out on top in the big game, getting there seemed like accomplishment enough, for now. Cincinnati has that same ceiling this season with the clear goal to be crowned champions.
They’ve only been able to have their almost unthinkable rise in the rankings because of their elite drafting, meaning they have several big-time contributors on rookie contracts. It also means their core is young and primed to thrive as they continue with the franchise.
Former No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow had his best season yet last year, and rookie Ja’Marr Chase had one of the best rookie receiving seasons of all time. Those two, who are 25 and 22 respectively, were both dubbed in CBS Sports’ top-25 under 25.
Burrow came in third while Chase was ranked No. 6.
Here’s what was written on Joe Shiesty.
Joe Cool is everything you want in a franchise QB: prototypical size, championship-level poise, and steady mechanics across the board. Advancing all the way to the Super Bowl in year two confirmed him as top-10 material, even in a stacked AFC, and with an improved line, he should feel even freer to spread the ball from the pocket. The only chief concern, if you’re looking to nitpick, is his long-term durability, considering he’s not a definitively mobile signal-caller and has already had a big knee injury.
Justin Herbert who has yet to be in the playoffs at all and Lamar Jackson who has yet to be to a Super Bowl were the only players above Burrow. Jackson does have an MVP to his name while Herbert’s big-time arm was on full display a season ago.
Jessie Bates III, who has been looking for a long-term contract yet was franchise tagged by Cincinnati this offseason, sat 20th on the list.
Several Bengals also cracked the honorable mention with wide receiver Tee Higgins, offensive lineman Jonah Williams, and kicker Evan McPherson all being named among the 27 others that at least were given a shoutout.
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin also had a “Just Too Old” and “Maybe Next Year” list, neither of which featured any Bengals.