2. Joseph Ossai
Joseph Ossai started to make his presence felt late in the season last year, and we saw just how good he can be in the postseason. Now it is time for him to build on that.
The Bengals need to improve at rushing the passer and generating more sacks and tackles for losses. Cincinnati ranked near the bottom in sack totals last year and still managed to lose in just the final seconds of the AFC Championship.
Imagine if they flip that and can be a top-five team in sacks or even middle of the pack. That could be what pushes them over the top of being a Super Bowl Champion.
Ossai will play a vital part in that. His main facet is rushing the passer, and heading into year three the Bengals will need to see him begin generating sacks at a more consistent rate.
1. Myles Murphy
Myles Murphy, a lot like Ossai, will play a vital role in his rookie season. He may not be starting across the defensive line because that will more than likely be Hubbard, Hill, Reader, and Hendrickson, but he will still be one of the more prominent rotational pieces across the edge of the defense.
The Bengals drafted Murphy in the first round for a reason and that reason is believing that he can be the pass rusher he was at Clemson and that he can break down offensive lines with his ability.
The Bengals usually don't overuse rookies, but we could see Murphy getting plenty of looks across the defense line and edge throughout the season, and that's why he is the most critical player to the Bengals that isn't currently a listed starter.