The Cincinnati Bengals had their supporting cast for Joe Burrow heading into the season ranked higher than you might expect.
To the outside world, the Cincinnati Bengals are often an afterthought. Players in stripes rarely get the recognition that they deserve, both during their careers and after. One look at any pre-season rankings list, and you’ll often find the Bengals near the back of the pack, no matter what category is being discussed.
However, in Bleacher Report’s recent rankings of supporting casts, writer Kristopher Knox gave Joe Burrow’s crew the 19th overall spot in the NFL. Considering that A.J. Green hasn’t had a healthy season for two years and the unknown that is Tee Higgins, it’s a generous ranking that gives the respect the other players in the group deserve.
"“Unlike a typical No. 1 pick, Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow should have a solid supporting cast at his disposal. Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are one of the better backfield duos in the AFC, and wideout Tyler Boyd is a budding star.”"
It’s true, Joe Mixon is coming off of back to back 1,000 yard rushing seasons and he still has plenty of room to grow into more of a threat in the passing attack. Bernard, although he’s seen his snaps decrease, is a nice change of pace and can bring it while pass blocking. Tyler Boyd is as tough as they come and is coming off a pair of outstanding seasons, despite being surround by less than ideal circumstances.
Beyond that trio, there is the aforementioned Green and Higgins. When healthy, Green is a top-10 wide receiver. Higgins, on the other hand, will still have to prove himself but he has the makings of an instant impact rookie, with his leaping ability and tremendous catch radius.
That’s all before getting to the fastest man in the league, John Ross. The former Washington standout showed just what he was capable of in the first two games of the 2019 campaign. If he can remain healthy, he could be even more dangerous with Burrow throwing to him.
The rest of the AFC North
The Bengals were sandwiched between two divisional rivals in these rankings. Lamar Jackson and company found themselves with the 20th overall spot, while the Steelers hold the 18th selection.
The Browns lead the pack with the number two spot. It’s hard to argue with, as Cleveland wields one of, if not the best, backfield in the league with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry can both be electric and they have unique enough skillsets that one won’t overshadow the other. However, it remains to be seen if Baker Mayfield and the coaching staff can correctly use all the talent present.
Overall, every team in the AFC North has dangerous weapons at their disposal. For now, the Bengals hold the 19th spot in the NFL, but it can be argued that their crew has the most potential out of the bunch. When all is said and done, their ranking could be much higher than it is currently.