Cincinnati Bengals: Young core can speed up the rebuild
Contrary to what the record indicates, the Bengals have a solid group of young talent they can bring with them through the rebuild. Here’s a look at the core the Bengals already have.
Joe Mixon, RB
Mixon is a very talented running back. He led the AFC in rushing last year and has gotten better as this year has gone on. Give the 23 year old the ball and he will make something happen. If the Bengals decide to draft Joe Burrow first overall, Mixon is going to be a great weapon playing alongside a rookie quarterback. Mixon’s ability to impact games both on the ground and through the air makes him a key player on the Bengals offense going forward.
Tyler Boyd, WR
Another player that could help a young quarterback if need be is receiver Tyler Boyd. The fourth year player is a reliable pass catching option that can make any quarterback’s job a little easier. He has posted 85 catches this year.
Boyd usually operates out of the slot. His mix of speed and accurate route running makes him a big factor for the offense. With Burrow’s style of play, Boyd’s slant route out of the slot could be a familiar sight for Bengals fans for years to come.
Jonah Williams, LT
We have yet to see the rookie offensive lineman play, but his draft position indicates he has the potential to be a franchise left tackle. With the Bengals potentially bringing in a rookie quarterback, having a reliable left tackle could make a huge difference. Bengals fans should be excited to finally get a real look at the young lineman next season.
Sam Hubbard, DE
Hubbard hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show his talents coming off the edge for the Bengals. Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson have been playing well. Hubbard has been almost a rotation player on the defensive line.
When we get a chance to see what Hubbard can do, he looks like a promising young talent with seven sacks this year. With the chance to still develop and learn from veterans like Dunlap and Atkins, Hubbard could be a very special player.
Jessie Bates, FS
Bates struggled early in his second season, but picked it up significantly after Week 8. He still has some developing to do, which makes him an exciting member of the Bengals defense. His speed and ability to read the opposing offense makes him a key defensive back for the team. Improving on tackling can make him a star safety going forward.
Carl Lawson, DE
Another young talented defensive end, Lawson hasn’t been quite as dominant as his 8.5 sack rookie season this year. Still, at 24 years old, Lawson has lots of time to develop into a franchise player on the defensive line.
Auden Tate, WR
Auden Tate had his breakout season this year, nabbing 40 catches on a struggling offense. With it looking like a new quarterback will be running the Bengals offense next season, it will be interesting to see Tate get more involved. He is a big receiver at 6’5 227. With his athletic ability and great hands, Tate could be a reliable red zone target in the future.
Germaine Pratt, MLB
Pratt is now the starting middle linebacker on the Bengals defense. The rookie has had some struggles, but has shown flashes of what he can do. If the Bengals can get a solid defense around him, Pratt can be a leader on the defense moving forward.
William Jackson, CB
Jackson is a little older than most of the players mentioned above, but still has some great years ahead of him. Last season, we got to see just how good Jackson is. Although Jackson didn’t have a repeat season this year, he is still going to be a key player going forward. His struggles this season could be short lived. If the Bengals are able to improve the defense and make Jackson’s job easier, he could return to being a star number one corner for Cincinnati.
John Ross, WR
We got a small glimpse of what Ross could do earlier this season. He has been struggling with injuries since he came into the league, but with a possible new quarterback and an altered game plan, Ross can be an exciting member of the Bengals offense.
His quickness and speed make him a lethal deep threat. If the Bengals can develop his route running on short and medium routes, he could be a great number two behind Boyd.