The starting four on the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive line is set.
Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard did an excellent job on the edge last season.
Inside, D.J. Reader was incredible against the run. And after an impressive first season with the Bengals, B.J. Hill is ready to take on a larger role in 2022.
Beyond that, things get very interesting. Josh Tupou is the only notable veteran. Other than that, it’s a lot of youth and potential.
Let’s take a look at the young players who will be competing to add depth to the Bengals’ defensive front.
Joseph Ossai requires no introduction. The 2021 3rd Round pick flashed last preseason, but a knee injury sidelined him for his rookie season.
In this clip, he uses an inside move on Tristan Wirfs. Despite some help from the guard, Wirfs cannot keep Ossai away from Tom Brady. Ossai showed some serious burst as a pass rusher and could be a fascinating complement to Hendrickson and Hubbard on the edge.
#KansasState EDGE Wyatt Hubert can win at the top of the rush and has a couple of moves in his bag of tricks. High-effort guy. Consistently attacks throwing arm. Think he can find a role in the NFL - one of a handful of juniors heading to @seniorbowl next week! pic.twitter.com/hyXQ06ANbA— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) January 18, 2021
Another rookie, Wyatt Hubert, had some buzz last summer as well. Unfortunately, a peck injury ended his season before it began.
Hubert brings some juice as a pass rusher, with good hips and fast hands. He has the motor to be a serious contributor. With all the talent at defensive end, Hubert will be in a fierce competition for a roster spot. His main challenger is the person we’ll look at next.
Good to have Khalid Kareem back pic.twitter.com/RE0wzH7jAh— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 21, 2021
Ossai and Hubert thrive as pass-rushers, but Khalid Kareem is a more well-rounded player right now. He is tough, smart, and refined in his technique.
Kareem made some great plays in the run game, like this tackle for a loss against the Denver Broncos.
He battled some injuries of his own, but he has been an excellent contributor when healthy.
James Daniels getting zero leverage and losing at the point of attack vs Cam Sample (undersized playing inside at 6'3", 280).— Andrew Russell (@Andrew_Russell7) February 22, 2022
Or if you're a glass half full person Cam Sample is the next big thing. pic.twitter.com/6W1w6nCBiA
Now, we move inside. Cam Sample is an AC/DC defensive lineman who can play on the edge or bump inside. With the departure of Larry Ogunjobi, Sample could play a larger role at 3-technique this season.
In this clip, he controls the guard, pushing him into the A-gap, and disengaging to make the tackle when the ball bounces out to the B-gap.
He has shown some real potential and is poised for a break-out season. Having the opportunity to play more on the interior could lead to a big year for Sample.
Zach Carter is in a similar mold and could also fill the Ogunjobi void as a rotational defensive tackle.
In this clip, he pressures the B-gap turning the guard’s shoulders. He then clubs the guard, opening up the A-gap and his path to the quarterback completely.
Carter can contribute as an interior pass rusher right away, but he may be better off playing on the edge on running downs, while he builds his strength and improves his leverage as a run-stopper.
Jeff Gunter is listed as a defensive end on the roster and weighed in at only 263. Still, his best shot of contributing this season is on the interior of the defensive line in pass rush situations.
It may seem a bit strange to talk about a player as an interior pass-rusher while showing a clip of him making a run stop from a 5-technique, but hear me out.
This clip shows his quickness. He makes a lateral step into the B-gap, then bursts through it to make the play. This is his best attribute and will be used most effectively on pass-rush stunts from the interior.
Yes, he can line up on the edge and stop the run, just like Sample and Carter, but he could make his greatest impact on a limited number of plays inside.
Not only can Tariqious Tisdale flat out play, he’s a great fit for the Bengals Dpic.twitter.com/KQjZQV351z— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) June 22, 2022
Untapped potential. That is what Tariqious Tisdale brings to Cincinnati.
Tisdale is a force when he is on the field, but it is the last part that is the problem. He needs to stay healthy long enough to develop his impressive physical traits into an elite defensive line skill set.
Tisdale could be the ideal third defensive tackle, who the Bengals use largely in the C-gap in their odd defensive fronts. He has the length and speed to play on the edge, as he demonstrates with a sack in this clip. He also has the strength to stop the run on the interior.
What Tisdale has been able to put on film shows that Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and defensive line coach Marion Hobby found a very intriguing project this offseason.
Tyler Shelvin peeks inside and then sheds back outside to make the stop once the RB declares. Great strength to stop the RB in his tracks and drive him backwards. pic.twitter.com/45RRnx1WDp— Mike (@bengals_sans) August 30, 2021
Now, we have come to true defensive tackles, and they don’t get much truer than Tyler Shelvin.
He is a brick wall, who had some great reps as a run defender last season.
In this clip, he has complete control of the blocker and disengages to make the tackle once the ball declares itself.
This skill set is huge in a still very run-happy AFC North. He can be Reader’s backup and play beside him in certain run-stopping packages.
There is a lot of young talent in this group, and they can’t all make the final roster. Keep a close eye on the defensive line throughout the preseason to see who stands out.