The Cincinnati Bengals have been a game or a game and a half under .500 in each of the last two seasons, respectively. Despite declining success, the Bengals have made minimal changes to the coaching staff and key pieces of the roster.
Here are the best players on the Bengals roster and some predictions for this season.
Best Skilled Offensive Player
Green has been the focal point of the Bengals offense ever they drafted him fourth overall in 2011. He has topped 1,000 receiving yards in every season, but 2016, in which he played only 10 games. Green has been named to the Pro Bowl seven times, the NFL’s Top 100 players list seven times and the NFL All-Rookie Team. He also ranks 11th in receptions, ninth in receiving yards, 11th in receiving touchdowns, 12th in yards per reception, fourth in receiving yards per game, 19th in rushing and receiving touchdowns, 19th in yards from scrimmage and 24th in all-purpose yards among active players. He has continually put up huge numbers despite inconsistent quarterback play and defenses designed to stop him.
Best Offensive Lineman
Glenn is a massive offensive tackle that should immediately help the Bengals offensive line. He has three more years remaining on his contract with a smaller cap hit and base salary in 2019 and 2020. They also didn’t have to give up a first-round draft pick to get him. They had to swap down from nine spots with the Bills. He has very good size and athleticism. It is very difficult for defensive players to push him backward or run around him. He has the physical tools to be one of the best tackles in the league but is not anywhere near elite level.
Best Pass Rusher
There are few teams that have a defensive tackle as their best pass rusher, but here are the Bengals and here is Atkins. He led the Bengals in sacks each of the last two seasons with nine and was second the two years prior, including an 11-sack output in 2015. In his eight years in the NFL, Atkins has amassed 61 sacks, including 12.5 in 2012. He has been named to the Pro Bowl six times, First-Team All-Pro twice and NFL’s Top 100 list five times. He ranks 21st among active players in sacks. He has the ability to collapse the pocket and get the sack himself or force the quarterback to try to scramble right into one of his teammates.
Best Pass Defender
Kirkpatrick is a tall, long cornerback that takes away passing lanes with his size. He also has the ball skills and vision to deny the receiver the ball. He has just 10 career interceptions but has defended 55 passes, including three-straight double-digit seasons. Last season, he added his second career sack and second highest tackle total.
It is time for Boyd to take the next step in his career. Entering his third year in the league, Boyd has 76 catches, 828 yards and three touchdowns in his career. He should be able to do that in a season. He finished last season strong with five catches for 91 yards and a fourth-down touchdown that knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs. He has all the tools to excel opposite Green.
Best New Addition
The Bengals needed better and younger players on their offensive line. Price is a versatile, smart, athletic offensive lineman with good technique and leverage. Price is going to start in the NFL for many years. The Bengals have an offensive lineman to build around.
Not So Out On A Limb Prediction
Joe Mixon will lead the team in carries.
The Bengals drafted Mixon in the second round of the 2017 draft. He missed two games and didn’t get the starting job to begin the season. Yet, he finished with a team-high 178 carries, 626 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Despite Giovani Bernard returning, Mixon is the most talented runner among the running backs on the Bengals roster. Bernard is going to get the third-down reps and Brian Hill and Mark Walton still backups at this point. The Bengals running game will run through Mixon.
The Bengals will finish last in the AFC North.
The Bengals haven’t bottomed out yet, but that may only because they have shared a division with the Cleveland Browns. Now that the Browns have a viable quarterback option, they will be on the rise. It looks like time for the Bengals to take fourth place in the division.