4. Cam Taylor-Britt, Cornerback
Eli Apple was reasonably productive last year, earning a PFF grade of 60.9 overall. Not great, not terrible, and certainly serviceable given his contract. Still, you’d like to see an upgrade at the No. 2 cornerback slot, and the Bengals certainly had that in mind when they drafted Cam Taylor-Britt out of Nebraska in the second round.
Apple is only making $4M on a one-year deal, which isn’t starter money, and certainly doesn’t show a long-term commitment by the Bengals. Plus, he’s a journeyman at this point in his career, having been on four teams over the past four years.
That’s not the sort of guy you want to rely on, and it’s doubtful that the Bengals see him as a long-term solution at the position.
Even if they did, you can never have enough corners. In a league that goes 3-wide more often than not, you’ve got to have at least three quality guys, and while the Bengals do have that in their starting trio of Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Apple, just one injury upsets the “apple cart.” (Get it? See what I did there? That hilarity is a freebie.)
Anyway… all it takes is the other guys getting nicked up here and there, and Taylor-Britt has a path to significant snaps. We’ll probably have a very good idea by the end of the season whether he’ll be a reliable starter in 2023, or whether the Bengals will have to tap the free agency well once again.