Will someone else take a step?
The Bengals have spent a lot of draft capital on the defensive line in the past few drafts. In 2020, Cincinnati chose Khalid Kareem. In 2021, the team drafted Joseph Ossai, Cam Sample, Tyler Shelvin, and Wyatt Hubert. In 2022, they selected Zach Carter and Jeff Gunter. They used a first-round pick on Myles Murphy this year. That is eight defensive linemen drafted in three years.
Of those eight, three are no longer on the team, and one is on the practice squad. Hopefully, someone out of the group of Ossai, Sample, Carter, and Murphy will step up in a big way this season. Unfortunately, that is off to a bad start, with Ossai suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury in the final preseason game. He isn't going to play in Week 1.
Ossai's injury and losing Johnson III put even more pressure on Sample and Murphy to produce behind Hendrickson and Hubbard.
At some point, the team will have to be able to count on their recent defensive line draft picks to perform at a high level when the starters need a break. With the team so reliant on the veterans, it would also be good if one or two of the younger guys showed enough to prove the future is bright at defensive tackle and edge. We are not there yet. Will we be after this season?
There is a lot to be excited about concerning the Bengals’ defense. Nevertheless, questions about certain current and future roster decisions, performance, and whether the team can improve their pressure and sack totals remain.