Cincinnati Bengals Breakout Candidate: Logan Wilson

The Cincinnati Bengals had an impressive 2020 draft. Four draft picks saw significant playing time and included linebackers, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and breakout candidate Logan Wilson.

The two seasons prior to Wilson’s arrival, the linebacking corps had the lowest grade in the NFL and ranked an abysmal 30th. The revamping and emphasis on linebackers in 2020 also included seventh-rounder Markus Bailey. This was done to better compete in the AFC North and in curtailing Lamar Jackson. The brightest spot of the linebacking group was most certainly Wilson who looks to take the next step.

Logan Wilson is a Breakout Candidate to Take the Next Step

Wilson had a solid rookie season and amassed 33 tackles (23 solo), two interceptions, and one sack. The Wyoming product started off playing about 30 percent of the defensive snaps but after 12 games played about 55 percent. Wilson was inconsistent in coverage but really excelled against the run. With the departure of Josh Bynes, Wilson looks to “continue to get comfortable with the defense and settle into the middle backer role instead of being on the outside.”

The play of Wilson late in the year should solidify his spot as an every-down linebacker and an important piece of the Bengals defensive core moving forward.

Lou Anarumo’s Chess Piece

The Bengals were very impressed with Wilson as evidenced by game tape that matched his NFL combine performance and a high Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 8.83. This metric shows measurements in relation to the position group on a scale of 1-10 with 5.00 being average. The modern linebacker needs speed and explosion and Wilson showed well which impressed Zac Taylor and Lou Anarumo.

Anarumo badly needs consistent and reliable play from his group. The increased playing time for Wilson could elevate him in the overall scheme and in a leadership role. Players often make significant improvements from year one to year two in the NFL. The Bengals are counting on Wilson as a crucial defensive chess piece.

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Bengals Emerging Defensive Core

The one aspect of an NFL player that might be the most critical is the mind. The Bengals have many players that were team captains in college based on leadership qualities and mental aptitude. Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard, and Wilson to name a few. Hubbard recently stated that “It’s our team, it’s our time now. We are embracing it because this is what we wanted. We want to win games, do things the right way.”

Rising in the NFL is an arduous process for young teams learning to win. The Bengals are trying to remedy this by also investing heavily in the defense in free agency. Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton will start and be expected to contribute immediately.  The veterans coupled with Cincinnati’s young core are confident and emerging simultaneously.

The biggest question mark and outlier is the linebacker group. They will need to raise their level of play for the defense to be successful in 2021. Wilson is in the middle of it all, primed and ready for the challenge.

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