The last two offseasons, the Cincinnati Bengals finally addressed the offensive line in serious fashion, smartly adding Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency and hitting on Cordell Volson in the Draft.
And yes, right tackle isn’t completely settled yet, but the competition at the position is pretty strong. Jonah Williams, still recovering from a dislocated knee, is the frontrunner. Meanwhile, La’el Collins, who has made great progress from his own serious knee injury, could have the biggest upside, considering who he used to be. And Jackson Carman showed potential late last season.
Still, depth is an issue on the o-line. But not as big of an issue as it is on the d-line, says AtoZ Sports’ John Sheeran.
Here’s what Sheeran had to say about the Bengals’ defensive ends and edge rushers:
There’s a lot of bodies there but they were 29th in the league last year in sacks, and a lot of that was because you had Trey Hendrickson playing too much, and Sam Hubbard has never really been a premier edge rusher. So you’re expecting a leap out of Joseph Ossai and something from Myles Murphy.
And here’s Sheeran on defensive tackle:
They basically did nothing to improve that room. D.J. Reader’s a really good player, but he’s a year older with more wear and tear on his knees, and his game is predicated upon explosion and leverage. His backups are Josh Tupou and Jay Tufele, both decent rotational guys, but you wouldn’t want them starting in place of Reader at any point. So that’s a massive hole at tackle, a massive hole at three technique, and then you’re essentially banking on a second-year leap from Zach Carter, a former third-round pick who spent last year transitioning to tackle.
The analyst also pointed out that, in the early days of Lou Anarumo’s tenure in Cincinnati, lack of depth at defensive tackle prevented the mastermind from successfully executing his schemes. Finally he said, “There’s a lot better depth inside in the league than what the Bengals have.”
Perhaps the next most obvious area to consider as the roster’s biggest weakness is the secondary. Chidobe Awuzie was elite when he last played for the Bengals, but a complete recovery from an ACL tear—though much more likely these days—is no guarantee. And Cam Taylor-Britt was coming along late in the season, but he still has a lot to learn about the position.
Meanwhile, one of the team’s biggest strengths, safety, can now be considered a question mark, with both Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell leaving in free agency and second-year player Dax Hill, free agent addition Nick Scott, and rookie Jordan Battle looking to fill in.
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