Yesterday I showed you all the post from FSO’s Zac Jackson and his 5 most important Bengals . Here’s my take on it all, giving you my own list of the 5 most important Bengals.
For the criteria of this I wanted to stick very closely to what Zac did with his list. His main criteria for this was the player HAS to be under contract. So guys like Cedric Benson and Jonathan Joseph are ineligible for the list. The other thing is this isn’t a “make or break list” or something along those lines. This is strictly the top 5 players, that will make the biggest impact on the team, and without them would make a huge impact.
5. Bernard Scott
Starting off strong with Bengals RB Bernard Scott. He was a B Back for most of his career so far, but many speculate he will come into his own in a West Coast attack. Scott’s ability to break runs on the outside, along with his speed and pass catch ability make him a great back for this style of O. Scott will most likely be a member of “run by committee” backfield in any situation with Benson back or not. But with him out of the equation the possible loss of Benson could be a lot worse than it already will be. But with Benson coming back, Scott could really light things up becoming one of the elite “2-backs” in the league.
Jackson’s Pick: A.J. Green (Broke his own rule right here, Green’s not under contract)
4. Jermaine Gresham
Next on the list would be Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham. From the day he was draft Gresham was looked at becoming one of the elite TE’s in the league. His sophomore season can give Jermaine the chance to prove that he was what he was billed, a pro-bowl caliber TE. In a situation where the QB is unknown one of the most important lifelines a QB can have, is his tight end. TE’s values are is there versatility and Gresham has that. In the new style offense he will be used like the “multitool” he is; run blocking, catching short passes generating YAC, down field receiving and being a big red zone target. Taking him out of the equation you’re left with Chase Coffman, who is a great back up, but not “the guy” or they wouldn’t have drafted Gresham the next year.
Jackson’s Pick: Carlos Dunlap
3. Carlos Dunlap
The answer to the Bengals pass rush problems we’re addressed in this 2nd round value pick of the 2010 Draft. Expectations were all over the board, but when Dunlap finely broke the line up he was a massive hit. Making the NFL 2011 All Rookie Team with only 12 games on the active roster. Not too mention in those 12 games he broke the Bengals rookie sack record. With him in the equation the Bengals have a menacing Defensive End with a knack for getting to the QB. Without him your looking at a rotation of Frostee Rucker and [Fragile] Antawn Odom (Geathers and Johnson lining up at the other End) putting it bluntly saying it’s pretty weak. But with Dunlap in, you’re looking at a defensive play maker who’s a fringe ProBowler going into year 2.
Jackson’s Pick: Rey Maualuga
2. Andrew Whitworth
The most important Offensive player hands down right now, is Bengals Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth. With the current rebuild of the offense the Bengals desperately need their franchise Left Tackle to perform at his top level. Whit is already thought highly of by most (who pay attention to the big boys upfront), and when watching his ability to take an elite DE out of the picture you can understand why. With the questions at QB be it Jordan Palmer or Andy Dalton, the QB’s blindside needs to be protected so the offense can work. If Dalton is abused and banged up it can take quite a toll on his growth as a franchise QB. His success at the position will set the tone for the whole offense. His leadership on the Offense is unmatched, making an impact as a vocal leader and team captain. If you take Whitworth out of the equation your left with Anthony Collins (who may already be playing the RT position because of Andre Smith) but aside from here there’s no one there without Whitworth.
Jackson’s Pick: Leon Hall
1. Rey Maualuga
The overall “most important” player on this team is without a doubt Linebacker Rey Maualuga. His evolution as a player impacts the tone of the defensive drastically. Currently playing the Sam Linebacker position, it is assumed he will be moved to the Mike position taking over for FA Dhani Jones. Since the time he was drafted it was assumed Rey would take over as the Franchise LB of the Defense. Having the talent and the ability of an elite playmaker Rey’s 3rd year playing already has most fans excited. In this time of “rebuilding” the new young star of the defense is key in the success of the franchise. With many faces parting ways with the Bengals this season (Carson, Chad, T.O. Dhani.. possibly J.Jo, Ced and Leonard) the team needs stars to keep fans interested. And Rey Maualuga is that star to not only make into a face of the franchise but to build a championship defense around.
Jackson’s Pick: Carson Palmer
We all may differ on our positions on this and I can’t blame anyone. Most of us may agree on the names being worthy of a top 5 or top 10 pick ranking in any case. But if you disagree or have your own ideas, post them up. I’m excited to see any response you guys as readers may feel in your opinion of who is in your “top 5 most important players”.