The Bengals love bringing in players who know how to win.
This has led them to draft players from big-name programs like Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State. In this year’s draft and rookie free agency, they landed three players from a program that is not as well known but has won 22 games in the last two seasons.
After the draft, the Bengals added Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh and running back Shermari Jones, but the Chanticleer Cha-Cha started when the Bengals selected defensive lineman Jeff Gunter with the 252nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Let’s take a look at what Gunter brings to the Bengals’ defensive front.
Gunter is #94, the second player in black from the left.
Gunter has the versatility to rush the passer from the inside or the outside.
In this clip, Gunter lines up in the B-gap between the offensive tackle and offensive guard. Instead of immediately shooting the gap, he takes a few steps to the outside, squaring up the tackle. As a result, the guard no longer sees him as a threat. He looks away and helps the center with his block. Gunter uses a club/punch move. He takes his inside hand and clubs the tackle’s inside tricep. This turns the tackle’s shoulders to the outside, allowing Gunter to take his outside arm and punch over the tackle’s inside shoulder.
With the guard helping the center, Gunter has a clear path to the quarterback sack.
This was a great set-up to eliminate the guard and a nice pass-rush move to get by the tackle, but there is room for improvement, particularly in Gunter’s follow-through on his pass-rush move.
The offensive linemen he will see in the AFC North will be much more difficult to defeat.
Gunter is #94 in white, rushing the edge at the bottom of the screen.
In this clip, Gunter shows a great burst off the line of scrimmage. He dips and rips right past the offensive tackle and the pocket quickly collapses, but Gunter doesn’t get the sack.
There are two things here that demonstrate that his flexibility is lacking. First, the dip portion of his dip and rip move doesn’t get very deep. If this was a seven-layer dip, he’d be getting nothing but cheese and tomato. He dips deep and gets to the refried beans. Second, he isn’t able to bend the edge very sharply. The Bengals don’t value extremely bendy defensive ends the way many teams do, so this isn’t necessarily something that will prevent him from getting on the field. It is, however, something he can improve on, which will make him a better pass-rusher.
Gunter is #94 in teal, at the top of the screen.
This clip is cut a little tight, but it appears that Gunter was once again fast off the ball. This time, he uses power rather than speed.
Gunter is bull-rushing the tackle. His hands are tight, and his pad level is low as he drives the tackle deep into the backfield. All good stuff. The bull-rush, however, is not a pass-rush move. It is a set-up. Gunter can’t get the sack unless he can get off the block.
His pressure has forced the tackle to turn to the outside, so Gunter comes back to the inside with another club/punch. Just then, the quarterback tucks the ball and decides to run, but there is no outrunning Gunter, who brings him down for the sack.
This clip demonstrates Gunter’s power as a pass rusher. That coupled with his quickness could make him an asset to Lou Anarumo’s defense.
Gunter is #94, the second player in white from the top of the screen.
Of course, defensive linemen also need to be able to stop the run. Defensive line play is about being disruptive and not allowing the offense to do what they want to do. Both the tight end and the h-back attempt to block Gunter here, but his speed and strength help him penetrate deep into the backfield. This forces the running back to make a dramatic cutback and leads to a tackle for a loss. Gunter is a disruptor.
Gunter is #94, the third player in black from the bottom of the screen.
In this clip, Gunter uses his speed to shoot the B-gap and makes the tackle for a loss.
Gunter lined up outside the offensive tackle in the C-Gap, so prior to the snap, the tackle would have been expected to block him on this zone run play. When he shoots inside, he becomes the guard’s responsibility. As Gunter’s movement shifted from inside to straight up field, the guard did not react fast enough.
Gunter’s quickness is a big part of why he made so many plays at Coastal Carolina and will be a big part of his success in the NFL. Although this was a run stop, it shows how the Bengals may choose to use Gunter as a pass-rusher. Putting him on the move with defensive line stunts works to his strengths and will lead to sacks.
The Bengals have a lot of young, versatile defensive linemen coming into training camp in 2022. It will be interesting to see how Gunter competes with fellow rookie Zach Carter and other young players like Kareem Khalid, Cam Sample, and Wyatt Hubert.