Cincinnati is now Joe Burrow‘s team. The Bengals selected Burrow with the first selection in the draft and have surrounded him with weapons. Zac Taylor should put the Bengals in a better position as they weren’t the worst team in the league last year. They were competitive in a ton of games, especially against Seattle in week one. The front office has finally started spending in free agency, bringing in a ton of new faces on defense. This Bengals team will be interesting to watch and come in higher than many expect.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 76.498 (24th)
- Offense – 76.155 (25th)
- Defense – 76.555 (25th)
- Coach and Culture – 75.75 (T-27th)
- Home Field Advantage – 74.5, 29th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 76.5, 22nd (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Burrow comes off the best season in college football history as he threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He was far and away the easy choice for the first selection in the draft and should have no problem transferring to the NFL level. This could be a surprise ranking for Burrow as he hasn’t played a single snap in his career but will definitely be one of the bright young stars for years to come unless injuries plague him.
It would be beneficial for Cincinnati to potentially sign a veteran backup option such as Blake Bortles or Matt Moore to provide some backup insurance in case Burrow gets hurt. Bortles would likely be the selection as he worked in a similar offensive scheme under Sean McVay last year. Taylor comes from the McVay scheme as he was with the Rams during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
If the Bengals don’t sign a veteran, they will roll into the season with Ryan Finley and Jacob Dolegala as the only other quarterbacks on the roster besides Burrow. Finley played awful in his time as the starter last year once the team benched Andy Dalton. Finley completed less than half of his passes for 474 yards and two touchdowns compared to two interceptions.
Running Backs – 87.5, 8th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Joe Mixon has had over 1,400 scrimmage yards each of the last two years and figures to be around that mark again this year. He has also had 35 catches in each of the last two years as well. Mixon is one of the best backs in the league and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as he plays on the Bengals. The only issue he has this year is an abysmal offensive line, which seems like a common trend for the Bengals. Giovani Bernard has taken a step back the last two years as Mixon has become the star of the backfield. Bernard only had 404 scrimmage yards last year with no touchdowns. He is a great second option that also has veteran leadership.
Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson were added during the draft last year and are unfortunately buried on the Bengals depth chart. Neither of the two had a carry last year but should be given more opportunities this year with Bernard getting a year old and Mixon having a serious workload worth monitoring. Samaje Perine was added but could likely be cut in favor of the younger options in Williams and Anderson.
Pass Catchers – 86, 6th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
If the top three stay healthy, the Bengals could have one of the best receiving cores in the league. A.J. Green didn’t play a snap last year after suffering an injury during the offseason but should be ready to start the season. Tyler Boyd continued to produce in his absence last year as he caught 90 passes for 1,046 yards and five touchdowns. Joining Green and Boyd this year will be Tee Higgins, who the team drafted with the 33rd selection from Clemson. Higgins exploded last year for over 1,100 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns and should be a viable option this year, although there is a lot of depth behind him as well.
Auden Tate and Alex Erickson stepped in during Green’s absence as the two combined for 83 catches, 1,004 yards, and a touchdown. The two will likely revert to the third and fourth receivers on the team as Higgins will take over the third receiver role at some point during the season. One of Tate or Erickson could potentially get traded for a pick during cuts as well. John Ross finally showed some of the potential that made Cincinnati make him a top-ten pick in the 2017 draft. Ross finished with over 500 yards and three touchdowns in eight games, translating to a year where he would’ve had over 1,000 yards had he played all 16 games.
Stanley Morgan and DaMarkus Lodge were interesting prospects coming out of Nebraska and Ole Miss respectively. Unfortunately for them, the Bengals run six deep at the receiver spot, and the two will probably get cut or placed on the practice squad.
Drew Sample was an interesting selection on day two of the draft last year and only made five catches for 30 yards as a rookie. Sample was outperformed by Tyler Eifert who has since left for Jacksonville and C.J. Uzomah. Uzomah had 27 catches for 242 yards, and two touchdowns last year. If one of Uzomah or Sample can produce more this year, the Bengals will have one of the best offenses in the league in terms of weapons.
Offensive Line – 66.5, 31st (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the offensive line is still one of the worst in the league and has to be talked about and is weighed heavily. Jonah Williams is the only bright spot on the offensive line and will slot in at left tackle, but he hasn’t played a snap in his career to this point. Billy Price has been one of the biggest draft busts in years and will battle with Trey Hopkins or Michael Jordan for the center or left guard spots.
Xavier Su’a-Filo couldn’t find time on a Houston offensive line that had troubles of its own and now comes to Cincinnati to start at right guard. Bobby Hart is one of the worst starting tackles in the league and the Bengals didn’t bring anyone to battle with Hart for the starting right tackle spot besides Isaiah Prince, who comes over from another horrific offensive line in Miami.
On an offense with a ton of firepower, the offensive line drastically brings the grade down. While Burrow is good under pressure, he can’t do it all on his own and will need more than one good lineman to make the Bengals offense the best it could be. The offensive line also hinders Mixon’s production in the backfield as well.
Run Defense – 76, T-25th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Geno Atkins is still one of the best defensive tackles in the league. Now, D.J. Reader is added into the fold. Both Atkins and Reader are great run stoppers that can factor into the pass rush as well. Behind those two, the defensive line has a ton of depth on the interior, even with the departure of Andrew Billings. Ryan Glasgow is similar to Reader and Atkins while Renell Wren will likely take over for Billings as the massive run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. Andrew Brown will also factor in on some snaps as well. The linebacking core is full of a mishmash of different players that the Bengals have brought in which I’ll get more on later.
Pass Rush – 81, T-19th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Carlos Dunlap is the top pass rusher on the team and is coming off a nine sack season; the most he has had since 2015. I see Dunlap more as a low-end number one pass rusher at this point of his career. Behind him though, the Bengals have a lot of depth. Sam Hubbard exploded for an 8.5 sack season. Carl Lawson also had five sacks in 12 games and should factor in more this year as well. Atkins had 4.5 sacks last year from the interior. Cincinnati has five good edge rushers who should all factor in to have more than four sacks each this year, but they don’t really have a rusher that keeps offensive coordinators up at night.
Linebackers – 71.5, 30th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
This ranking is very much temporary. The Bengals have a lot of different pieces on their linebacking core, including a plethora of rookies. Josh Bynes, Germaine Pratt, and Akeem Davis-Gaither are likely going to be the three starters in base formations. Bynes is the veteran of the group who comes over from Baltimore on a fairly inexpensive contract. Akeem Davis-Gaither, Logan Wilson, and Markus Bailey were all added from the draft and should figure to play this year, but also factor into the future plans. Jordan Evans and Marcel Spears also factor in as well. Wilson and Bailey are similar thumping linebackers with good zone coverage ability, while Davis-Gaither is a linebacker/safety hybrid.
For this year, the linebacking core is going to involve a lot of moving pieces. For the future though, the Bengals have taken several dart throws at linebackers with great tools instead of completely ignoring the position (ahem, Green Bay).
Secondary – 78, T-21st (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
The Minnesota… or Cincinnati secondary meanwhile also has a lot of revolving pieces coming in and out. William Jackson, who is coming off a rough year last year, is now surrounded by Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander who the Bengals brought in from Minnesota. Jackson and Waynes will start on the outside with Alexander in the slot. Darius Phillips and Tony Brown are the most reliable depth of the two remaining corners.
Jessie Bates is one of the most underrated safeties in the league. Bates will now be joined by Vonn Bell, who the team added in free agency on the back end, while Shawn Williams will be your dime safety/nickel corner hybrid. All of the pieces need to come together in the secondary. However, with possibly three new starters, the secondary could be a lot better than this ranking if everything goes according to plan.
Coach and Culture – 75.75, T-27th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Taylor was getting in a groove towards the end of the season. Now, he has his own quarterback and a very deep receiving group, similar to the one that he had during his time with the Rams. The offensive line is the only weak spot on the offense and drastically brings the offensive and overall grade down. Cincinnati ranks 24th in offensive coach and culture.
Lou Anarumo now has plenty of depth and pieces on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals placed 25th in the league last year with a plethora of injuries and a worse secondary then they have now. Even with the defense being improved, Anarumo’s uncertainty is the reason the Bengals rank 27th in defensive coach and culture.
The Bengals are heading in the right direction. The offense around Burrow is surrounded by a plethora of weapons. Unfortunately, the offensive line is a big issue on offense. Anarumo needs to take the defense to the next level with a ton of young players playing in key roles. If the Bengals are building for the future, yet still could be a surprising team this year. It will definitely be an exciting year to watch Cincinnati.
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