Left Defensive End: Sam Hubbard
Sam Hubbard, the hometown boy, is entrenched as the starter at left end. He’s a team leader and team captain, a great community partner, and a darn good football player.
Hubbard should receive a heavy workload again in 2022, but last year’s fourth-rounder, Cam Sample, should see plenty of snaps as well.
Right Defensive End: Trey Hendrickson
Trey Hendrickson, the jewel of the 2021 free-agent class, is the most important edge rusher on the team. Coming off a career-high 14 sacks, Hendrickson will be counted on to sustain that kind of production to keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2022.
This year, though, he may have help.
If 2021 third-round pick Joseph Ossai can show the form that he showed during last year’s preseason, the Bengals’ defensive ends should remain fresh throughout the season and be a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators.
NT: D.J. Reader
D.J. Reader was the first free agent that the Bengals targeted under Zac Taylor in 2020, and he is a beast in the middle of the defensive line. He’s been nicked up a bit over the past few years, so the Bengals would be wise to rotate him heavily with Josh Tupou and Tyler Shelvin to keep him healthy.
During the start of the games and in the most meaningful situations, you know he’ll be out there.
3T: B.J. Hill
The Bengals flipped former first-round flop Billy Price to the Bengals for B.J. Hill prior to the start of last season, and he really panned out well. They then rewarded him with a three-year, $30 million contract in free agency.
If you follow the money, that tells you all you need to know about how the team feels about Hill. He’s getting starter money, and he’s going to be a starter. The only other in-house option to start at 3-tech is third-round pick Zachary Carter, and that feels unlikely.