Cincinnati Bengals crowned most improved in AFC North
Pro Football Focus thinks the Cincinnati Bengals have improved their roster the most when compared to the rest of the AFC North.
You can add the highly respected network, Pro Football Focus, to the list of outlets that absolutely love what the Cincinnati Bengals did this offseason. When compared to the rest of the AFC North, PFF has crowned Zac Taylor’s team as the most improved from a year ago.
This type of movement was absolutely necessary for the Bengals, who were not only locked in the division’s cellar, but the entire league’s. After securing their free-agent targets and having things fall nicely for them in the draft, the future looks much brighter in the Queen City than it did at the end of the 2019 season.
PFF raves about the Bengals improvement in the most obvious spot, starting with Joe Burrow, saying,
"“In drafting Joe Burrow, the Bengals added the best player in the draft–a player coming off the best season PFF has seen at quarterback since 2014–at the league’s most important position.”"
They go on to list numerous reasons why the addition of Burrow on the field is so great for the team. You can’t overlook the intangibles he brings though. His fiery leadership, confidence, preparation, and edge are attributes that are going to give the Bengals what they need to combat teams like the Steelers.
The conversation then moves on to the rest of the Bengal’s draft class. Tee Higgins slotted in at 25th on PFF’s big board, giving the front office great value at the top of round two. They even stated that in other draft classes, the Clemson star would be the top-ranked receiver prospect.
It appears as though the Bengals were absolutely shocked Higgins made it to day two. In their eyes, they added a first-round caliber quarterback-receiver duo, which has to be encouraging.
Of course, you can’t talk about the Bengal’s offseason without mentioning the overhaul of the linebacker room,
"“It’s also easy to like the way the Bengals attacked a need at off-ball linebacker. They didn’t spend their premium first and second-round picks on the position, but they attacked solid players on day 2 and 3 in Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey.”"
Much like Burrow, the new blood in the linebacker unit will obviously help the team overall, but it will be especially beneficial in the physical AFC North.
With recently added D.J. Reader, the defensive line looks downright scary. This should allow Logan Wilson to hit the ground running, as the big men upfront will likely occupy the offensive linemen often, allowing the former Wyoming standout to roam free. This will ensure the defense keeps opposing run games in check, namely the Ravens.
Speaking of Baltimore, there are very few players with the kind of athleticism necessary to keep their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, contained. The Bengals very well may have scooped up one of those prospects in Akeem Davis-Gaither. If he can limit Jackson’s ground game, the team has a much better shot at remaining competitive in these hard-fought contests.
The praise continues to pour in after the Bengals uncharacteristic offseason. While the team looks much improved on paper, it will be interesting to see how everything gels together on the field. Only time will tell if the improvement is enough to vault them in the upper echelon of the division.