Bengals’ defensive end Carlos Dunlap is only getting better with age

Cincinnati Bengals, Carlos Dunlap (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Carlos Dunlap (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Veteran Carlos Dunlap’s yearly improvement is just one of the reasons to be excited about the state of the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive line.

Heading into the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2020 training camp, the defensive line is set to be one of the team’s strongest units. After signing Houston Texans’ nose tackle D.J. Reader to a lucrative four-year, $53 million deal in free agency, defensive line coach Nick Eason has a loaded group of players to work with. One player that seems to get lost in the hype, however, is longtime Bengal Carlos Dunlap, who is only getting better as the years go by.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dunlap’s overall grade has gone up every year since 2014. With a score of 71.3 in 2014, the veteran defensive end’s overall grade has improved on a yearly basis, most recently ending the 2019 season with a grade of 89.7. By PFF standards, his 2019 play was elite. To be playing at an elite level at the age of 31 is a good sign for the later years of Dunlap’s career.

Carlos Dunlap is still stuffing the stat sheet too

Aside from PFF grades, Dunlap’s stat production has remained strong. With 9 sacks in 2019, the former Florida Gator had the third-highest sack total of his career, behind his rookie year of 9.5 sacks in 2010 and his career-high year of 13.5 sacks in 2015. He also had the second-best season of his career in both passes defended (8) and tackles (63). With no decline in his stats, Dunlap could continue to post strong numbers into his mid-30s.

His track record for injury also bodes well for a continuation of top tier performances as he ages. Throughout the course of his career, he’s been an absolute ironman, never playing in fewer than 12 contests. It’s his ability to stay on the field and fight through injury that’s allowed him to post these impressive numbers.

Dunlap is already the Bengals’ official all-time sack leader. Eddie Edwards still holds the unofficial record, but Dunlap is currently within two sacks of beating even that. With players like Reader, Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard, and Carl Lawson on the Cincinnati defensive line alongside the 10-year veteran, they could have one of the most unstoppable units in the league. As his play improves and the line around him gets better, Dunlap could be in for many more years of high-level play.

Next. Bengals build around Burrow in way-too-early 2021 mock draft. dark