Cincinnati Bengals: Five key position battles to watch

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals, Germaine Pratt (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Bengals position battle: Does Cincinnati have any solution at linebacker?

Linebacker has long been an area that Cincinnati has needed help with. The Bengals have gone a few years plugging in low tier free agents or later round draft picks to try to catch lightning in a bottle at the position. They have missed on almost every player and are still looking for solutions.

The strategy at linebacker did not change much for Cincinnati in 2020. The team brought in Josh Bynes from Baltimore and drafted three linebackers later in the draft. If the Bengals are going to stay competitive in the division, one of the linebackers needs to step up.

There are two incumbents for Cincinnati in Jordan Evans and Germaine Pratt. Evans did not get the opportunity to play much last season and he wasn’t great when he did play. Pratt played much more but scored worse in his overall performance, according to Pro Football Focus. The lack of production between these two led the Bengals to bring in Josh Bynes in free agency.

Bynes played in a limited role during his time with the Ravens last season but ended up grading out better than any player Cincinnati had at linebacker. While he does need to learn the Bengals’ system, he is a strong veteran presence that performed well when given the chance.

If the Bengals don’t go with one of these established players, they have three draft picks to choose from that could push for playing time. Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey were drafted by the Bengals in 2020. Out of this group, expect Wilson to be the most likely member to push for playing time. He got time to work with the coaching staff during the Senior Bowl and was high on their draft lift.

Whoever earns the starting status will need to perform much better than the linebacker group has performed in the past. Otherwise, Cincinnati’s defense will have a glaring hole once again.