Bengals Roster: Super early 22-man starter projections for 2022

Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals is congratulated by Joe Mixon (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals is congratulated by Joe Mixon (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

WR1: Ja’Marr Chase

Remember when “Sewell vs. Chase” was a thing? The Bengals ultimately decided that taking a blue-chip prospect was a better idea than drafting for need, and boy were they right! Ja’Marr Chase completely transformed this offense, hooking up repeatedly with Burrow like they hadn’t skipped a beat since LSU’s title run in 2019.

Oh… and remember when Ja’Marr Chase’s drops were a talking point in the 2021 preseason? And how people made a big deal out of the fact that he said it was harder to see the football since it didn’t have the white lines on it like the ball in college?

Looks like those concerns were, uh, overblown. Chase hit his patented Catch-Score-Griddy 13 times during the 2021 regular season. It’s exciting to imagine what he and Joey B have in store for an encore in 2022.

WR2: Tee Higgins

Is there a more underappreciated wideout in the NFL than Tee Higgins? Through two years in the league, he’s averaged 1,000 yards and six touchdowns per year. He played hurt through a lot of last year, but he really turned it on down the stretch once defenses started focusing on Ja’Marr Chase.

In his last 10 games (including playoffs), he had an astounding seven games with 96 or more yards, along with six touchdowns.  He’d get a whole lot more love from the national media if he wasn’t playing on the same team as Ja’Marr Chase, but he’s an elite player in his own right.

WR3: Tyler Boyd

Tyler Boyd is another underappreciated Bengal. He’s been a steady, reliable target over the years. For many teams, he’d be a high-end WR2, but for the Bengals, he’s their No. 3. He accepted a reduced role without complaint this past season because it led to more winning.

Boyd is exactly the type of talent, leader, and culture builder fans want on their squad. He’s a reliable target over the middle and he keeps the chains moving when the deep ball isn’t connecting. More than anyone else, he is the unsung hero of this offense.

Starting TE: Hayden Hurst

C.J. Uzomah was a fan favorite, but it never really made much sense why. He was clearly the most inferior pass-catcher on the starting offense, and they have replaced him with a guy with a higher ceiling.

Last season, Uzomah had 49 receptions for 493 yards and five touchdowns. He only scored in three games. Yippee. Congrats on your payday, C.J., but that’s production the Bengals can replace.

Enter, Hayden Hurst.

In his first season in Atlanta (before their offense was torpedoed by the losses of Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones last season), he posted 56 catches, 571 yards, and six touchdowns. In short: Hurst > Uzomah. And the presence of Hurst is going to keep Drew Sample exactly where he belongs: on the bench.

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