The Cincinnati Bengals enter a season with serious turnover at the safety position. After losing both starters from last season, the Bengals will need to replace key pieces in the defense.
Luckily, Cincinnati spent a first-round pick on a safety last season, added one through free agency, and drafted a safety in the third round this year. It will be one of the biggest question marks come Week 1.
Here are three significant questions for the Bengals' safeties this season.
3. Will a lack of experience hurt the defense?
Cincinnati lost two starters who were consistent and durable starters over the last few seasons, and Jessie Bates in particular has been one of the best in all of football. However, both Bates and Vonn Bell are heading to the NFC South -- Bates with the Falcons and Bell with the Panthers
The issue now arises because Cincinnati has little to no starting experience at the position. They have the skill and they have a first-round talent in Daxton Hill who is expected to lead the tandem.
Nick Scott, who played a vital role with the Rams, was signed this offseason and has the most starting-level experience at the position outside of maybe Michael Thomas, who is more of a special teams threat than at safety. Jordan Battle was drafted in the third round this year out of Alabama and was one of the best and most consistent secondary pieces in all of college football last season.
Tycen Anderson could put himself in play for some volume snaps if he continues to play well in training camp and preseason, but he also has zero career starts at the position after being hurt all of last year.
2. Is Daxton Hill capable of taking on a Jessie Bates-type role?
Jessie Bates was the catalyst at the safety position for the Cincinnati Bengals in recent memory, and with his departure to Atlanta, that void will need to be filled, and that won't be an easy task.
Daxton Hill is the expected filler for that role after the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Michigan. Hill is a multi-faceted safety with the ability to be elite in the box, make athletic plays on the ball, and have a high IQ for the position.
He didn't see much action throughout his rookie season besides a rotational role and on special teams, but he has shown signs of improvement throughout this off-season, and he will be stepping into one of the more prominent role changes this season for the Bengals.
1. Who will fill the role next to Hill?
This will be the biggest question to figure out. Daxton Hill is expected to take the next step but who will his sidekick be? Could it be a rotation? Or will it simply be one of the three that Anarumo believes complements him the best and produces?
Battle had a stout collegiate career as one of the most efficient safeties in the sport and has impressed so far throughout camp and in his preseason action. Nick Scott as we mentioned, has the most starting experience, and he is the expected counterpart to Dax Hill to start the season.
Tycen Anderson won't jump into a starting role, and he's probably the fourth safety on the depth chart to start the year. He is working his way up drastically, especially after his performance against the Packers in the preseason.
Come mid-season, it wouldn't shock me to see Anderson getting high-volume snaps at the position. Anderson's rookie season was derailed due to injuries, and he is yet to make his first career appearance in the regular season.