Buying or selling Bengals’ position groups: Linebacker & secondary
After years of linebacker being the Bengals’ biggest weakness on defense, they overhauled the group over the offseason. Signing veteran linebacker Josh Bynes and selecting three in the NFL Draft, the front office transformed their linebacker group arguably more than any other team changed one single position all offseason. Don’t expect that to show immediately.
The linebacker group will surely be better than it has been in years past. However, with Germaine Pratt still young and in need of a breakout and three rookies likely being thrust into early playing time, it may not come together right away.
Rookies Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey are all very talented young players with potentially bright futures. Despite this, it would be a miracle to have all three rookies up to par from the start of their careers. Young players need time to develop.
The future of the Bengals’ linebacker unit is bright, but fans should temper their expectations on the group for the immediate future.
If the linebackers were the Bengals’ most transformed position in the offseason, the secondary is a close second. Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick both parted ways with the franchise this offseason after years in Cincinnati. In free agency, the Bengals added Minnesota Vikings’ cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes, and New Orleans Saints’ safety Vonn Bell.
Waynes is a very similar player to Kirkpatrick in many ways but comes with better run defense and ball skills. Alexander is one of the best run defending corners in the league and a solid cover corner as well. Bell joins an already solid safety duo in Jessie Bates III and Shawn Williams.
Put all of those pieces together with #1 corner William Jackson III, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a passing offense that can beat the Bengals through the air.