When the Cincinnati Bengals take the field in 2020, this team is going to look a lot different than the team that took the field in 2019, which is definitely a good thing, because that team finished with the worst record in football.
Besides landing Burrow, the other thing the Bengals did this offseason was participate in free agency, which was shocking because that's generally something they don't ever do -- until about the fourth wave of free agency when everything is 60% off. The Bengals love shopping out of the bargain bin, but surprisingly, that's not what they did this year. Over the past three months, the team went out and signed multiple players who should be able to contribute right away.
Basically, the Bengals are going to have a lot of new starters this year, and because we want to make it easy for you to keep track of those new starters, we've put together a projection on where everyone will end up on the field.
Let's get to the list.
|QB||Joe Burrow||Ryan Finley||Jacob Dolegala|
|RB||Joe Mixon||Giovani Bernard||Trayveon Williams||Rodney Anderson|
|LWR||A.J. Green||Auden Tate||Stanley Morgan||Trenton Irwin|
|RWR||Tee Higgins||John Ross||Mike Thomas||Damion Willis|
|SWR||Tyler Boyd||Alex Erickson||DeMarkus Lodge|
|TE||Drew Sample||CJ Uzomah||Cethan Carter||Mason Schreck|
|LT||Jonah Williams||Bobby Hart||Hakeem Adeniji|| |
|LG||Michael Jordan||Billy Price||Alex Redmond|| |
|C||Trey Hopkins||Billy Price|| || |
|RG||Xavier Su'a-Filo||Isaiah Prince||Clay Cordasco|| |
|RT||Bobby Hart||Fred Johnson||Hakeem Adeniji|| Josh Knipfel|
As you've probably already noticed, the biggest change for the Bengals this year is coming at quarterback. For the first time since 2010, the Bengals won't have Andy Dalton under center to start the season. Instead, the team is putting all its faith in Joe Burrow, who will look to lead the Bengals to their first playoff win since January 1991, but that's enough about quarterbacks.
The two biggest things you should notice on the offensive depth charts are:
1. The Bengals are stacked at the wide receiver position.
2. The offensive line has been totally revamped.
At receiver, the Bengals are returning four players who went over the 500-yard mark last season in Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson and John Ross. To that in perspective, the Packers only had one receiver who crossed the 500-yard mark last season. Not only are the Bengals returning a boatload of talent, but they're also adding two guys who weren't on the field last season in A.J. Green and Tee Higgins.
Although we have Green, Boyd and Higgins listed in the top three slots, it wouldn't be crazy to see that change based on how things shake out at training camp. Bengals coach Zac Taylor was just starting to scratch the surface of Ross' talents last season, so it wouldn't be surprise if he were to have an impressive camp. On Tate's end, he was a player who shined last season while the Bengals were dealing with injuries, so he could see more action. As for Green, he's expected to be fully healthy, and if that's the case, the Bengals should have one of the best receiving groups in the league.
On the offensive line, there's going to be two new starters in 2020, a number that could potentially jump to three, depending on things work out at right tackle. The Bengals signed Xavier Su'a-Filo Cordy Glenn debacle -- but the position should gain some major stability as long as Williams can stay healthy. Williams was the team's first-round pick in 2019, but he didn't play a single down last season due ., and as long as he stays healthy, he should be the team's right guard this season. At left tackle, the Bengals will finally have Jonah Williams on the field. The position was a disaster last year for a multitude of reasons -- with most of them involving the
At right tackle, Bobby Hart is penciled in as the starter, but that's something that could definitely change. Hart struggled last season, which was a big reason why the Bengals claimed Fred Johnson off waivers in October. Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has already made it clear that there will be a competition at right tackle, so it won't be surprising at all if Hart isn't the Week 1 starter.
You don't usually see the Bengals participate during the first wave of free agency, but that changed this year, and a big reason it changed is because the team wanted to revamp its defense.
A defensive makeover was something that had to happen this offseason, and that's because the Bengals defense was horrible last year. The team surrendered 393.7 yards per game, which was the fourth-worst in the NFL. To fix their problems on defense, the Bengals brought in multiple free agents, including D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell, Mackensie Alexander, and Josh Bynes.
Out of that group, the feeling is that four of those players will be Week 1 starters in Reader, Waynes, Bell and Bynes. The addition of Reader means the Bengals now arguably have one of the top-five defensive lines in the NFL.
As for the rest of the free agent additions, the most interesting name to watch will be Bell, and that's because he usually plays strong safety, which is the spot where Shawn Williams sometimes plays. We've got Bell penciled in as the starter, because the feeling here is that Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anumaro will use Williams as his own personal chess piece that he can put anywhere on the field. Williams spent some time last season lining up at linebacker, and if the Bengals need him there, then Anumaro can confidently ask him to play that position, knowing that he has Bell at safety. The addition of Bell will also give the Bengals the option to occasionally go with three safeties, which is a defensive look that's being utilized more and more around the NFL.
Let's get back to the linebacker position though. That spot was the Bengals biggest weakness last season, and if Williams is free to line up there, that will beef up the team's depth. The addition of Bynes, who will almost certainly be a Week 1 starter, could end up being the Bengals' most underrated signing of the offseason.
As for Alexander, the Bengals will likely have him on the field in nickel packages, but the more important thing is that he gives the team some serious depth at corner.
|K||Randy Bullock|| |
|P||Kevin Huber|| |
|LS||Clark Harris||Dan Godsil|
|KR||Brandon Wilson||Darius Phillips|
|PR||Alex Erickson||Tyler Boyd|
The Bengals' special teams depth chart was the easiest one to put together and that's because there shouldn't really be any changes from last season. Huber and Harris have both been in Cincinnati since 2009 while Bullock has been the team's kicker since midway through the 2016 season.
On Wilson's end, he turned into a true weapon last year, as he led the NFL with a kick return average of 31.3 yards. In 2019, Wilson was the only player in the entire league who averaged more than 30 yards per kick return. As for Erickson, he was one of only seven guys in the NFL who finished with 25 or more punt return attempts while averaging more than six yards per return.