4. Carlos Dunlap, DE
The combination of Lawson and Dunlap on the edges of the defensive line is absolutely terrifying. This season, Lawson may be a better pure pass rusher than Dunlap, but Dunlap definitely has a more well-rounded skill set. His consistency speaks volumes about his play, and coming into his ninth season, he isn’t going to slow down at all.
Over the last half decade, Dunlap has racked up 44.5 sacks, finishing with no fewer than 7.5 in any season. He has already discussed breaking his personal best of 13.5 sacks in a season and achieving the Bengals’ franchise record in career sacks. Dunlap and Lawson will feast off each other, so 8 sacks seems like a floor for Dunlap.
His skills don’t stop at pass rushing, though. Dunlap can play on all three downs, unlike Lawson, because he has the size and strength to get penetration inside. Dunlap’s veteran experience will also help the team this season. Although he’s not a captain, Dunlap’s quiet leadership will help the young players like Lawson, Jordan Willis, and Sam Hubbard grow. The Bengals gave Dunlap a big extension for a reason – he’s a cornerstone of this defense.