4. Cincinnati Bengals
Key Additions: S Vonn Bell (via free agency), CB Trae Waynes (via free agency), LB Josh Bynes (via free agency), CB Mackensie Alexander (via free agency), DT D.J. Reader (via free agency), OG Xavier Su’a-Filo (via free agency)
Key Departures: QB Andy Dalton (waived), Tyler Eifert (via free agency), LB Nick Vigil (via free agency), OT Cordy Glenn (waived), CB Dre Kirpatrick (waived), CB B.W. Webb (waived), OG John Miller (waived)
Draft Haul: QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins, LB Logan Wilson, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, DE Khalid Kareem, OT Hakeem Adeniji, LB Marcus Bailey
Outlook: The Bengals certainly had a 2019 to forget. But to the victors of the number one overall pick, go the spoils.
Joe Burrow arrives on the scene looking to be the next franchise quarterback of the Bengals as they said goodbye to their franchise quarterback (kinda) of old in Dalton. Burrow will have some weapons at his disposal in Cincinnati including a wide receiver corps that may be among the deepest in the league.
The group is headlined by AJ Green and Tyler Boyd but also boasts Higgins, John Ross, and Auden Tate. Thankfully for Cincinnati this group is so strong because the tight end group, after saying goodbye to the oft-injured Eifert, consists of Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah. Burrow will be heavily reliant on his wide receivers to help fuel the Bengals offense.
It also helps that Cincinnati has Joe Mixon in the fray. Mixon, who led the AFC in rushing in 2018, finished second behind Nick Chubb for the AFC rushing title this season. He is a dual-threat running back that will provide Burrow another pass catching option as well when things break down.
And they will. Thee Bengals offense line is poor and or unproven at nearly every slot. 2019 11th overall pick Jonah Williams will be looking to sure up that left side of the line after missing his entire rookie season with a torn labrum. Bobby Hart, Michael Jordan (no not that one) and Trey Hopkins all grade out as some of the worst at their positions. Su’a-Filo gives them another hopeful piece.
Defensively, the cupboard is rather bare for the Bengals as well. They’ll hope that Kareem can provide some pressure along with mainstays Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Reader was added to assist a rushing defense that finished last in the league. The additions of Wilson and Davis-Gaither hope to energize a less than impressive linebacker groups as well.
In the back end, Jessie Bates has shown promise at safety and the cornerback room was given a face-lift with the additions of Waynes and Alexander via free agency. Shawn Williams starts at the other safety slot for a secondary that led a middle of the road passing defense last year.
All in all, the Bengals are much improved, but in a tough division, don’t be surprised to see them picking in the top seven again next season.