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ESPN ranks Bengals just outside top 5 of teams with brightest futures

ESPN did a power ranking looking at where all 32 NFL teams rank over the next three seasons. The Bengals unsurprisingly ranked very high.

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The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the best young rosters in the entire NFL. That is fairly easy to see when they have players like quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase all 25 or under.

So when ESPN did a power ranking based off how teams look for the next three years, it came as no surprise to see the defending AFC Champions near the top of the list. Here was their criteria:

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2022 through 2024), we asked our panel of experts — Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates — to rate each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching [on a scale of 1-100].

Ultimately, Cincinnati ended up with the No. 6th spot:

The future of the Bengals was clear after they went to the Super Bowl despite having such a young roster. GM Duke Tobin has architected some outstanding recent drafts — with no pick more important than quarterback Joe Burrow (No. 1 in 2020) — while also taking an unlikely dip into the free agency pools of late. The Bengals boast one of the league’s most explosive offenses and one that should take decided steps forward in the coming years. That’s nightmarish for opponents. — Yates

Any Bengals fans’ first reaction is probably why this team isn’t higher. It is a fair question when this team is coming off a playoff appearance while boasting one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with an incredibly young roster around him.

Things like the team’s roster and quarterback account for a larger majority of the ranking, but even still, the off field group of coaches and front office aren’t looked down that much in this ranking. The front office ranks ninth, while the coaching and drafting ability falls just outside of the top 10.

So what is holding the Bengals back? Right now, the tiebreaker seems to be their aggressiveness to really push this roster over the edge with a few attempts at big names in free agency.

The overall roster (outside of quarterback) ranks fifth in the NFL. That part of this ranking accounts for 30 percent of the final score. That is still incredibly high, but when these rankers give the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams all rank higher than that while having incredible quarterbacks as well, it splits the hairs.

It is still amazing to see Cincinnati so high in rankings like this. They should also start out the normal power rankings in at least the same position, if not higher. This team is built to not only compete in the gauntlet that is the AFC, they’re also built for the long haul.