Bengals Roster: Defensive Depth Chart


Organized team activities are in full swing and this is the first opportunity for teams to get a look at how guys are doing since the end of the 2014 season. They also can get an idea of where injured players are in their respective rehabs and if they are projected to be ready for training camp.

For the Cincinnati Bengals, the defensive side of the ball got an infusion of players this offseason with the return of Michael Johnson, Pat Sims, and Brandon Ghee. They also brought home former Green Bay Packer linebacker and 10-year veteran A.J. Hawk.

In the 2015 draft, defensive coordinator Paul Gunther had to wait until the third round before he got a new player in TCU linebacker Paul Dawson. Then on Day Three of the draft, Guenther got defensive lineman Marcus Hardison in the fourth round and then a steal in the sixth round in the form of safety Derron Smith.

In my opinion, this defense is much improved following this offseason after only losing one starter in 37-year-old corner Terence Newman. With the free agent additions and the draft picks, suddenly this depth chart is looking full and we will see some good players released come September. Here’s a look at the current defensive depth chart.

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There is going to be battles at every position and it starts on the defensive line. I’m going to make a prediction that we will see two former second round picks cut this year: 2013’s Margus Hunt and 2012’s Devon Still. Both are missing from OTA’s, so Still won’t be as much of a surprise cut as he was cut last year before being re-signed to the practice squad, and we know he is by his daughter’s side during her fight against cancer.  Hunt is said to be out with an undisclosed injury and could remain out until training camp. With Will Clarke showing promise and the drafting of Marcus Hardison, our favorite Estonian could be on the outside looking in.

Linebacker seems somewhat set through the first five guys where they usually keep six. Emmanuel Lamur, Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey, A.J. Hawk, Paul Dawson are all locked in. There is no doubt in my mind that Vontaze Burfict will start the year on PUP and miss the first six games. First, the Bengals will want to protect their investment and make sure he comes back at 100%. Second, they really want to keep Marquis Flowers, last year’s sixth rounder. They really think he can be a solid player. When Burfict comes back, they will have to make a decision on who to cut; (*cough*) third quarterback.

The defensive backfield is looking really solid, on paper at least. I love the additions of defensive back Josh Shaw and safety Derron Smith. Both will be special teams standouts from Day One. I expect Shaw to take over the gunner spot Dre Kirkpatrick will vacate. Like most years the question will be, do you keep five corners and five safeties or six corners and four safeties?  Or do you go light and squeeze in another linebacker or defensive lineman? This is why Shaw is important because he can play both corner and safety. The Bengals will have options in the secondary.

Next: Five Games the Bengals Must Win in 2015