AFC North defensive lines ranked from worst to best in 2023

  • Ravens DL isn't what it used to be
  • Browns vs Bengals DL -- Whose is better?
  • Steelers the easy top choice
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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2. Cincinnati Bengals

Although the Bengals do not possess many flashy players on their defensive line, they have found many hidden gems. Cincinnati recently re-signed Trey Hendrickson who is coming off of back-to-back Pro Bowl selections, opposite of Sam Hubbard who notched nine sacks each of the past two years.

Hubbard and Hendrickson have been incredibly efficient as the starting defensive ends. The tandem has been lights out against the Chiefs and Hubbard's 99-yard fumble recovery touchdown secured Cincinnati a win in Wildcard Weekend. Behind the duo is 2021 third-rounder Joseph Ossai who has shown promise and rotational player Cam Sample. Ossai is the more physical, but both players are solid in their rotational roles.

Although their defensive line is getting older, veterans D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill have been extremely stout against rushing attacks. Reader scored an elite 87.3 grade for the season on Pro Football Focus, and Hill had the fourth-most assisted tackles for his position in the league.

Reader's impressive talent and Hill's quality play have paired nicely on the interior and complement the Hubbard/Hendrickson duo quite well. In addition, 2023 first-round Myles Murphy looks to move around the line and make a name for himself this season.

Murphy has already been turning heads in camp, and at 6'5" and 276 pounds, he can play multiple spots on the defensive line. Murphy's high draft capital shows Cincinnati's commitment to their pass rush which looked worn down at the end of games last season. He brings much-needed juice, speed, and youth to an already solid group for the Bengals.

The Bengals and Browns both have more than competent pass rushers, but Cincinnati's commitment to drafting younger, elite talents such as Myles Murphy give them the edge over Cleveland who prioritized signing aging veterans.