Ranking the 5 most important Bengals players on defense

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets
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2. DJ Reader, Defensive Tackle

One thing defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo likes to do, is take away what his opponent does best. DJ Reader destroys running games. If your offense likes to set the table by running on early downs then you can nearly forget about it when facing Reader.

A knee injury in Week 3 last season meant he missed seven weeks of action, but he continued to produce at a high level on his return. This was highlighted by his stellar playoff game vs the Bills where he accounted for five pressures including two QB hits and three hurries.

Reader is the key piece on the defensive line and enters a contract year in 2023. While the Bengals will be keen to extend him, the defensive tackle market is exploding. Both parties will be hopeful that Reader gets an injury-free year to highlight his value.

3. Logan Wilson, Linebacker

Another player that will be looking for a long-term deal this offseason in linebacker Logan Wilson. The third-round selection out of Wyoming has well-outstripped his draft value and continues to marshall the defense from the second-level.

His college tape always showed a disciplined, sideline-to-sideline defender but Wilson has proven to be equally good against the pass. Last year, he recorded one interception and three pass breakups proving his all-round ability.

The one problem Wilson faces is that his partner at the position Germaine Pratt had a breakout year in 2022. Pratt re-signed with the Bengals on a three-year deal and if negotiations with Wilson prove tricky, having a high-priced linebacker already could ultimately see Wilson walk next offseason.