Two young members of the Cincinnati Bengals landed on a list of twenty hot seat candidates heading into the second year of the Zac Taylor era.
There seems to be a never-ending cycle in the football world of players who fail to meet the astronomical expectations from the outside world, reserving a position for them on the proverbial hot seat. It can be long-time veterans, back up players, and even members of the coaching staff. On USA TODAY’s list, however, it’s two young, unproven members of the Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross and Jonah Williams.
The article aims to peg recent first-round picks who could already find themselves in a precarious situation in the NFL. Unfortunately for the orange and black faithful, only the divisional rival Cleveland Browns accompany them with two representatives on the list.
Ross surfacing in this instance should come as no surprise. The front office scooped up the speedster with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. At the time, Cincinnati was coming off a disappointing season after a string of relatively successful campaigns. The Washington standout was viewed as the piece that could put the Bengals’ offense over the top and get things back on track. As most in Cincinnati know, that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Make no mistake about it, Ross has shown flashes of brilliance that explain why he was so highly drafted. It’s been injuries and dropped passes that have held him back. The good news is, he’ll have Joe Burrow slinging the ball to him this year, plus plenty of other dangerous weapons flanking him to take some pressure off.
This all figures up to be Ross’ last chance in stripes. He’s fully healthy and the previously mentioned circumstances mean there’s no reason to not live up to his draft billing. If it doesn’t happen this year, his time in the Queen City is likely over.
Could Jonah Williams really be on the hot seat?
While Ross appearing on the list is not very surprising, Jonah Williams is a shock. The top-rated offensive lineman prospect from a year ago suffered an injury that prevented him from playing a single regular-season snap in his rookie campaign.
Now fully healthy, he’s expected to anchor the Bengals’ offensive line and protect Burrow’s blindside. There’s no reason to believe that the talented bookend is on any kind of hot seat. After all, he’s the most highly drafted lineman on the roster, Cincinnati’s weakest position. Not to mention, he’s yet to even take a single snap in his professional career, as stated above.
If Williams fails to meet expectations and the Bengals struggle in the offensive trenches yet again, perhaps this could be a debate at the end of the upcoming season. Even then, the coaching staff would still likely continue to invest in his abilities.
For now, Williams is safe and appears to have the highest potential of any of the Bengals’ young offensive linemen.