Bengals Roster: Realistic expectations for Wyatt Hubert in 2022

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Wyatt Hubert - Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Wyatt Hubert - Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that Cincinnati Bengals training camp has started, it will be fun to watch some of the camp battles that will take place. One player to keep an eye on is the defensive end, Wyatt Hubert.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected defensive end, Wyatt Hubert out of Kansas State in the seventh round of the 2021 draft. Hubert suffered a torn pectoral during training camp last year, losing the entire season and a chance to show what he could do.

While at Kansas State, Hubert had 20 sacks, 94 tackles, and 33 tackles for loss in 34 games. That included 8.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and 27 tackles in 10 games during the 2020 season.

With stats like these, fans were overly excited about how Hubert could improve the defense along with third-round draft pick Joseph Ossai and fourth-rounder Tyler Shelvin. Unfortunately, both Hubert and Ossai were lost to season-ending injuries.

The Bengals’ defensive line improved in 2021, with newly-signed free agent Trey Hendrickson recording 14 sacks, Sam Hubbard with 17 quarterback hits, and D.J. Reader holding up the middle. All three veterans are returning this season, along with Ossai and Hubert. Both defensive rookies will finally get an opportunity to show why they were drafted.

All stats and rankings courtesy of Pro Football Reference

The best players will rise to the top

Hubert will need to bring his A-game because of all the fierce competition the Bengals have acquired on the defensive side of the ball. Given that he could observe in defensive meetings all last year and familiarize himself with the scheme, will that be enough to limit some of the mistakes rookies make?

Khalid Kareem played seven games last year while recording 28 tackles and one sack. However, he will start the season on the PUP list at the start of camp. Cameron Sample has a year under his belt and ended with 14 tackles, five quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks. The second-round pick from 2016 of the Tampa Bay, Noah Spence, who made the practice squad last season, will have the opportunity to prove his draft status.

Newly-drafted Zachary Carter out of Florida was selected in the third round of this year’s draft. He is versatile and can play both tackle and end. The Bengals are high on Carter and seventh-rounder Jeff Gunter out of Coastal Carolina to bring competition to the line.

What Bengals fans should expect from Wyatt Hubert in 2022

Now healthy, Hubert will need to bring his high motor, consistent play speed in attacking up the field, and reputation for getting after quarterbacks to camp. His intensity should be the thing that stands out the most when pushing the pocket. Hubert’s strength and work ethic could keep his name in the conversation for a roster spot.

Jay Morrison of The Athletic reported that Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in April that he is happy to see Hubert “back in the mix.” If Hubert can transfer his extraordinary playmaking abilities to NFL, he could contribute as a deep rotational player this season.

Hubert could find his way onto the 53-man roster or at least a practice squad spot with a strong performance during preseason games, proving that he would be a solid depth piece and addition to the defense.

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