4. Eli Apple
Last year started off rough for Eli Apple but he finished the regular season strong, posting a PFF grade of 60.9. Apple wasn’t always at the top of his game but the Bengals probably don’t make the Super Bowl without him.
Apple is back with the Bengals on an affordable contract and has said that unlike the other teams he’s spent time with, Cincinnati actually appreciates him. While fans are mostly happy that he’s back with the reigning AFC champs, if things aren’t going well and the defense takes a step back this year, Apple will probably be one of the main ones blamed for the downfall.
One of the biggest issues fans had with Apple was that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut and it ended up coming back to bite him at the end of the season. Apple was the one who allowed the Rams’ game-winning touchdown to Cooper Kupp and he didn’t hear the end of it following the game.
While Kupp scored on a lot of defenders last year, that’s what people are going to remember about Apple. The Bengals added help in the secondary this offseason but cornerback is one of the weakest spots on the roster and Apple is going to get flack if things don’t go well for the stripes this year.