Defensive End/Edge Rusher
Possibly one of the positions with the most significant talent is the defensive end position. Carlos Dunlap continues to be a problem for offensive tackles even as he comes up on 30-years-old. Consistently grabbing 7.5 sacks or more the last five seasons makes him in the discussion for top edge rushers in the league.
Last season Dunlap totaled 7.5 sacks but pressured the quarterback 69 times. Dunlap will continue his consistency to get after quarterbacks at even a higher rate possibly this season given it’s a contract year. He’s played on a team friendly deal for the last five seasons, but we shouldn’t expect for him to continue that following the 2018 season.
Carl Lawson, while labeled a linebacker and will take over more linebacker roles this year, is primarily an edge rusher. He will continue to line up as an edge rusher in nickel and dime sets this season. Lawson was a half-sack behind the team leader Geno Atkins last season while playing in a limited role. Given he will see more time on the field this season, we could see that number increase.
Michael Johnson is another name the Bengals have grown very fond of. While he doesn’t record the outstanding numbers like some of the other linemen, he is a consistent piece that has helped this Bengals defensive line become so dominant in years past. Jordan Willis is coming into his second season and coaches have expressed their thoughts on not playing him enough in 2017. Willis was a raw talent with a high ceiling coming out of college and looks to be a versatile weapon that can contribute on all three downs.
Last but not least you have third-round pick Sam Hubbard to add to the rotation. Hubbard will likely see limited roles in 2018, but be a part of the rotation along the defensive line keeping players fresh. The Bengals are just one team that would like to copy the Philadelphia Eagles rotation from last season.