Cincinnati Bengals: Top 3 breakout candidates for 2017

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Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka (43) looks on during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka (43) looks on during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Dre Kirkpatrick

Bengals fans were quite surprised that Cincinnati decided to re-sign Kirkpatrick over veterans Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. Essentially the biggest candidate on this list, Kirkpatrick has the ability to show the fans he was worth the extension. He will most likely be the No.1 corner for the Bengals and be expected to shut down receivers. This is the perfect opportunity for Kirkpatrick to show fans and the Bengals what he’s worth. Kirkpatrick has progressed over the years, eventually taking a starting spot last year. He performed well by having 46 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Is he capable of holding it down?

According to Pro Football Focus, Kirkpatrick finished with the eighth-lowest yards per cover snap allowed for cornerbacks. If he can expand that to next year, we could be looking at a huge breakout season.

In the upcoming year, Kirkpatrick is expected to be the No. 1 corner over Pacman Jones (who is expected to be suspended).  If Kirkpatrick can keep up with top receivers like Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, look out. He’ll need to correct some things like penalties and missed tackles, but he’s definitely shown that he can improve. Taking terrible angles and causing questionable penalties have been the reason for his lack of growth as a leader of the defense. If the Bengals plan on going to the playoffs, Kirkpatrick will definitely need to step up as a leader.

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