Predicting the Bengals 2022 53-man roster after the preseason opener

Aug 12, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) congratulates wide receiver Kendric Pryor (19) on a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) congratulates wide receiver Kendric Pryor (19) on a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports /

On the heels of their preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, let’s dive into a 53-man roster prediction for the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals.

Thanks to an eventful start to the preseason slate, fans of the Cincinnati Bengals got a good look at the players vying for positions on the back half of the roster. With Zac Taylor’s decision to rest (nearly) every starter, there are plenty of snaps to sift through to predict which players will make it through the upcoming rounds of roster cuts.

Quarterback (2)

  • Joe Burrow
  • Branden Allen

The Bengals enjoyed great quarterback play to kick off their preseason. After Brandon Allen was forced to exit the game due to injury, fans got an extended look at Jake Browning as well as a thrilling glimpse at rookie undrafted free agent Drew Plitt.

On his way to throwing 13/24 for 190 yards, Browning displayed impressive scrambling, including this highly talked about throw to Kendric Pryor on the run. Plitt went a perfect 6/6 and ended his drive with a touchdown.

Despite solid play, Allen possesses a familiarity with Zac Taylor and his system that is likely too great for Browning and Plitt to overcome at this point. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the pair, however. Further, the inspiring play could convince the coaching staff to keep a third QB on the roster.

Running Back (3)

  • Joe Mixon
  • Chris Evans
  • Samaje Perine

Chris Evans gave the orange and black faithful a show on Friday night, displaying a skillset that could add yet another dimension to the Bengals’ offense. At this point, one would have to think he’s inching closer to solidifying his spot as RB2 behind Mixon. Still, the coaching staff loves Perine and will almost certainly keep him around for special teams and his steady presence.

The big question here is whether or not Trayveon Williams can do enough to hang around. With some promising play coming from unlikely candidates in the wide receiver room, he could be the odd man out.

Wide Receiver (7)

  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • Tee Higgins
  • Tyler Boyd
  • Stanley Morgan
  • Kendric Pryor
  • Trent Taylor
  • Mike Thomas

Four of the spots in the wide receiver room seem like a lock at this point: Chase, Higgins, Boyd, and Morgan. The final positions could come down to the wire. Trent Taylor has looked solid so far and thanks to his capability as a reliable punt returner, it’s tough to imagine a scenario where he isn’t retained.

Diving further into the position group, it’s becoming increasing unlikely that the Bengals will be able to stash Pryor on the practice squad. The Wisconsin alum reeled in four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals, averaging a jaw-dropping 23 yards per catch.

You can’t forget about Mike Thomas either, who has become a special teams ace during his tenure in Cincinnati. It looks like the club will have no other option but to keep seven wideouts.

Tight End (3)

  • Hayden Hurst
  • Drew Sample
  • Mitchell Wilcox

There has to be growing concern for the tight end room in Cincinnati at this point. Fans didn’t get a look at Hurst due to the fact that he’s a starter. Drew Sample is currently sidelined for the near future thanks to injury.

That left a slew of backups to soak up the snaps and nobody among the group stuck out in an overwhelmingly positive way. Thaddeus Moss routinely gets the most attention due to his pedigree and history of playing with Burrow during their LSU days but after two holding penalties that negated touchdowns, his stock is trending down. Wilcox gets the nod here due to his special teams prowess.

Offensive Line (10)

  • Jonah Williams
  • Cordell Volson
  • Ted Karras
  • Alex Cappa
  • La’el Collins
  • D’Ante Smith
  • Jackson Carman
  • Trey Hill
  • Isaiah Prince
  • Hakeem Adeniji

The offensive line was perhaps the most disappointing position group during the preseason opener. Jackson Carman was the only projected starter to get any snaps and he disappointed despite playing against sub-par competition.

Look for Volson to get playing time much earlier the next time the Bengals take the field. Still, just a year removed from being a second-round pick, de-facto general manager Duke Tobin and co. have too much invested in Carman at this point to abandon his development.

As for the rest of the backups, there isn’t a lot of positivity to go around there either. Hill or Lamont Gaillard could get the nod to be the backup center but for now, Hill has an advantage, given that he was drafted just last year.

Smith will likely make the cut thanks to his eye-popping physical characteristics and work ethic. Prince and Adeniji, despite poor showings, bring experience and positional flexibility to the room to round things out.

Defensive Line (10)

  • Trey Hendrickson
  • D.J. Reader
  • B.J. Hill
  • Sam Hubbard
  • Joseph Ossai
  • Cam Sample
  • Zach Carter
  • Josh Tupou
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Jeff Gunter

The defensive line is in contention to be the deepest position group on the entire team. You have to commend the Bengals’ front office for the way they’ve poured their resources into the defensive trenches over the past several years.

Carter has been the surprise of the preseason. The former Florida Gator looks like he’ll bring plenty of pass-rushing juice to the interior defensive line. Gunter looks like he could have been a steal as well after displaying a strong motor to kick off his professional career.

Linebackers (5)

  • Logan Wilson
  • Germaine Pratt
  • Akeem Davis-Gaither
  • Clay Johnston
  • Markus Bailey

After struggling at the linebacker position for several seasons, the Bengals seem to have finally found some stability over the past few years. They’ve got a potential star on their hands in Wilson, and you have to love what Pratt brings to the table as well.

Davis-Gaither returned from last year’s injury, flashing athleticism and coverage ability. It’s hard not to root for Johnston after he slammed the door shut on Derrick Henry during a two-point attempt in the playoffs a year ago. So far, it looks like he’s picking up where he’s left off.

Bailey has looked solid at times, giving the team another athletic linebacker to call upon if injuries pop up. It’d be nice to keep Joe Bachie as well but after his ACL injury last year, there should be hope that the team could sneak him onto the practice squad and allow him to further heal.

Defensive Backs (10)

  • Jessie Bates III
  • Vonn Bell
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Mike Hilton
  • Eli Apple
  • Dax Hill
  • Cam Taylor-Britt
  • Tre Flowers
  • Jalen Davis
  • Tycen Anderson

There isn’t a lot of room for debate in the defensive back room. The starting five is set and you can add in Hill/Taylor-Britt as locks after the team spent their top two draft selections on the pair.

Flowers can play special teams and his length for the position allows him to cover tough matchups. Davis impressed against the Cardinals, continuing to prove his consistency. Tycen Anderson’s speed and potential in the third phase should allow him to secure a spot on the roster as well.

Specialists (3)

  • Evan McPherson
  • Kevin Huber
  • Clark Harris

This season marks the first time in a long time that there is a true specialist competition in Cincinnati. Drue Chrisman is set to give Huber a run for his money, and it seems like the team is pondering swapping out Harris for Cal Adomitis at long snapper as well.

We haven’t seen anything yet that would give Chrisman a clear edge over Huber. It looks more likely than not that Huber, a Cincinnati native and currently the longest-tenured Bengal, will stick around for another season.

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