The Cincinnati Bengals added four defensive linemen in the 2021 NFL Draft and that’s going to make the defensive line a fun position group to watch this summer. What does the d-line depth look like now that the draft has concluded?
The Bengals made it known that they want to get better on the defensive side of the ball, and in particular, along their defensive line. The Bengals defense was last in the league in sacks a year ago and that’s just not going to fly if this team wants to improve, especially in the stacked AFC North.
Here’s every defensive lineman listed on Cincinnati’s official roster:
- Freedom Akinmoladun
- Amani Bledsoe
- Mike Daniels
- Trey Hendrickson
- Darius Hodge
- Sam Hubbard
- Wyatt Hubert
- Khalid Kareem
- Kahlil McKenzie
- Larry Ogunjobi
- Joseph Ossai
- D.J. Reader
- Cameron Sample
- Tyler Shelvin
- Josh Tupou
- Renell Wren
The Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive line will be the most cutthroat camp battle.
Looking at this group, the starters would appear to be Hendrickson, Hubbard, Ogunjobi, and Reader. Hendrickson was a terrific free-agent signing this offseason and he’ll make an immediate impact for this Bengals defense. Ogunjobi was also signed in free agency after having spent the first four years of his career with the Browns. He’ll pack a punch with this group as well.
Hubbard is a former third-round standout from Ohio State and despite a down year in 2020, had 8.5 sacks in 2019. He’s someone the Bengals hope can improve after not getting many sacks this past season. Reader is entering his second year with the Bengals after starting five games last year.
Ideally, the Bengals would still look to add someone in free agency prior to training camp. Geno Atkins is still out there, for what it’s worth. He’s familiar with the team and makes sense for where this unit is at right now.
Regarding the draft picks, Ossai, Sample, and Shelvin should make it onto the roster as reserves but Hubert has an uphill battle ahead of him. He was a very good player at Kansas State and if he doesn’t make the roster, then hopefully he can stick around on the practice squad.
This will easily be the most competitive camp battle for the Cincinnati Bengals and it’ll be fun to see it play out. The Bengals know they need to get better defensively and if they’re going to try and compete in AFC North, they have to get after the quarterback. If teams can’t hit the quarterback, they’re going to get scored on.
The Bengals did show they’re serious about getting better but how will the position group look when it’s all said and done?