The 2021 Cincinnati Bengals roster has had a significant overhaul, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The offense brings back familiar skill players but also adds drafts picks in Ja’Marr Chase and several offensive linemen. The team also loaded up on free agents to better compete in the AFCN and to protect Joe Burrow. Head Coach Zac Taylor is also in a crucial third year and needs to win games immediately. Let’s take a look at the 53-Man projection for the Bengals.
2021 Cincinnati Bengals Roster Projection: Offense
Quarterbacks: (2) – Joe Burrow & Brandon Allen
Fairly straightforward here with Burrow and Brandon Allen. The team obviously hopes Burrow plays an entire 17 game season, but Allen is a serviceable NFL backup.
Wide Receivers: (6) – Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, Auden Tate, Mike Thomas, Trenton Irwin
The big four of Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Chase, and Auden Tate are set. Mike Thomas is familiar with Taylor’s system so it’s hard to see him cut. Trenton Irwin catches everything and also can play special teams so he gets the last wide receiving spot.
Running Backs (3) – Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans
The two Sooners are locked in Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Rookie Chris Evans is an intriguing third-down back who brings speed and elusiveness much like former Bengal, Giovani Bernard.
Tight Ends (3) – C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Thaddeus Moss
C.J. Uzomah has looked fantastic in camp after coming back from an Achilles injury last year. Drew Sample is an excellent blocker and has come a long way on the receiving end. Thaddeus Moss gets the nod based on his relationship with Burrow and also showed some promise as a full back versus Washington Football Team last week.
Offensive Line (10) – Riley Reiff, Jonah Williams, Xavier Su’a Filo, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, Billy Price, Fred Johnson, Michael Jordan, Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith
The starting offensive line may be Jonah Willams, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, Xavier Su’a Filo, and Riley Reiff left to right. Billy Price is the backup center and the rest backup on the interior line spots. The most heavily scrutinized group on the team has to perform well all season.
Specialist (3) – Kevin Huber, Evan McPherson, Clark Harris
Kevin Huber returns for his 12th season with the team and is accompanied by familiar long snapper Clark Harris. All rookie Evan McPherson seems to do is make kicks from all distances. Perfect thus far in the preseason, McPherson might be the Bengals best draft pick in 2021.
2021 Cincinnati Bengals Projection: Defense
Defensive Line (11) – Mike Daniels, D.J. Reader, Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Larry Ogunjobi, Josh Tupou, Khalid Kareem, Darius Hodge, Cam Sample, Tyler Shelvin, Noah Spence
The starting defensive line is Sam Hubbard, D.J. Reader, Larry Ogunjobi, and Trey Hendrickson in base packages. Mike Daniels is solid and Josh Tupou opted out last year and is a quality nose tackle. Tyler Shelvin is a man mountain and Noah Spence makes the team with the recent Joseph Ossai injury. The rest will back up at the edge and interior spots.
Linebackers (5) – Jordan Evans, Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Markus Bailey
This group is also fairly set. Second-year backers in Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey should take a jump in year two. Veterans Germaine Pratt and Jordan Evans have the ability to rush and cover well in multiple packages.
Defensive Backs (10) – Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Ricardo Allen, Brandon Wilson, Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Trae Waynes, Darius Phillips, Jalen Davis
You can never have too many quality defensive backs. The Bengals go with 10 led by the core safties of Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Ricardo Allen, and Brandon Wilson. Chidobe Awuzie has been one of the best defensive players so far and joins Mike Hilton and Trae Waynes in base passing downs. The rest backup at cornerback, with Jalen Davis getting the last spot.
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