Bengals’ 2020 draft class was one for the ages

Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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This is not exactly a Joe Burrow appreciation post. It’s a “Cincinnati Bengals 2020 draft class” appreciation post.

Each draft class naturally has its home-runs that overshadow the duds at the bottom of the barrel: in 2020, Joe Burrow. In 2021, Ja’Marr Chase. In 2022, who knows?

Back in 2020, Burrow’s signing may nonetheless have outshined that of the rest of the rookies, whose futures on the team weren’t yet solidified at the time. Two years later, the buds have blossomed and the Bengals get to reap the rewards of their sneakily wise draft choices.

In the 2020 NFL Draft, which could go down as one of Cincy’s best draft years in recent history, the Bengals didn’t just select their franchise quarterback. They also selected an elite wide receiver and a pack of starting-caliber linebackers that could keep the team competitive for years to come.

Cincinnati Bengals’ 2020 draft class deserves a round of applause

In Year 1, the 2020 Bengals rookies shined, but perhaps not bright enough. In Year 2, many of those players experienced huge jumps in their careers.

Burrow was, well, Burrow. Higgins, picked in the second round at No. 33 overall, recorded his first 1,000-yard receiving season with a career-high 67.3 percent catch rate. (Packers fans will lament the fact that Green Bay took backup QB Jordan Love over Higgins. Sucks to be in Wisconsin.)

Logan Wilson grew to be one of the team’s best interior defenders and posted 100 combined tackles, four passes defended, four interceptions, and a sack. His peers, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey, also showed promise as solid depth pieces and could form a stalwart linebacker unit in the future.

The only knock on 2020’s draftees may be right guard Hakeem Adeniji, who noticeably struggled against Rams’ Aaron Donald in the Super Bowl. Heading into the 2022 draft, the Bengals’ top priority will be improving their offensive line, and that could mean Adeniji gets swapped out for a more promising prospect.

In any case, the 2020 draft class has served as one of the major forces to help turn around the Bengals franchise. Remember, just a year separates the team from posting a 4-11 record to going on a wild Super Bowl run.

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Imagine what this young Bengals squad, rife with new rookies and players on the verge of breakout seasons, can accomplish in 2022.