4. Sam Hubbard, Defensive End
The second edge defender to make this top 5 list. However, Hubbard's inclusion is not simply due to his on field play but his value as a team leader. Born in Cincinnati, Hubbard epitomises everything it is to be a Bengal in the modern era.
Hubbard takes no plays off. Stout against the run game and with a motor that constantly runs hot against the pass. He may not be the most technically gifted but he matches the very best by the nature of his effort, something that is infectious on this defense.
Not only that, but he re-upped his contact at a reasonable rate in order to stay home and be one of the talisman that Zac Taylor could build around. Nobody deserved the 98-yard fumble recovery touchdown to skewer the Ravens in the playoffs more than Hubbard.
5. Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback
The best teams in the NFL have a lockdown corner. Chidobe Awuzie is another addition from the 2021 offseason that turned this defense around. The Bengals picked him up in the second wave of free agency and allowed him to realize the potential he had flashed as a Dallas Cowboy.
After injury had derailed his final year in Dallas, he bounced back for the Bengals recording a PFF grade of 83.3 in the regular season. He started in the same vein last year, through eight games he was yet to have a touchdown thrown against him.
Once again injury struck, this time in the shape of a torn ACL. The timetable suggests Awuzie will be good to go come the start of the year. That will be vital for the Bengals, who have lost key pieces in the secondary, which remains the biggest question mark on the defense.