CINCINNATI – Training camp is here and the Cincinnati Bengals have a re-fortified roster that is designed to get back to the Super Bowl and win the franchise’s first Vince Lombardi trophy.
The roster projections on a Super Bowl contending 53-man roster usually aren’t a difficult chore until you get to the very back end, mixing draft picks with rookie free agents and veterans trying to hang on.
The same can essentially be applied to the 2022 Bengals heading into camp.
For the purpose of this projection, we are eventually anticipating Jessie Bates to report and play in regular season games.
So, without further ado, we present 2022 Bengals 53-man roster projection 1.0.
Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen
In the running: Jake Browning
Trags take: This repeats from last season and no reason it shouldn’t. Allen has the trust of Burrow and Zac Taylor and earned it against the division-clincher against KC.
Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams
In the running: Elijiah Holyfield, Shermari Jones
Trags take: Samaje Perine is a favorite of Brian Callahan in power run packages as we learned on third-and-1 ill-fated rush on the final drive of the Super Bowl. Could that change this season with more emphasis on Mixon? Maybe. But this is a trusted four.
Hayden Hurst, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox
In the running: Thaddeus Moss, Justin Rigg, Scotty Washington, Nick Eubanks
Trags take: Can Thaddeus Moss do something in camp to bump Wilcox off the third spot? Could the Bengals go with two tight ends if Hurst and Sample are healthy?
Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Mike Thomas, Stanley Morgan, Trent Taylor
In the running: Kwamie Lassiter II, Trenton Irwin, Pooka Williams, Kendric Pryor, Jack Sorenson, Jaiyon Heilgh
Trags take: Here’s what to watch closely, if one of the big three go down for any time, who fills in? In OTAs, Thomas and Morgan were the ones to get first-team reps. Lassiter could do enough in camp to win a spot and earn a spot on Darrin Simmons’ special teams unit. Taylor is also a very trusted pair of hands on ST as we saw late last season while catching the biggest two-point conversion in team history in the AFC title game.
Jonah Williams, Jackson Carman, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, D’Ante Smith, Cordell Volson, Trey Hill, Isaiah Prince
In the running: Hakeem Adeniji, Lamont Gailard, Ben Brown, Desmond Noel, Devin Cochran
Trags take: Assuming Cappa and Collins come off the PUP and NFI lists respectively, this unit appears most solid. Biggest battle is for third tackle which D’Ante Smith figures to capture. Watch rookie Volson’s competitiveness closely in camp and preseason as he could push Jackson Carman. And yes, all eyes will be on the Fairfield High product to see if the left guard appointment in spring is warranted.
Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Cam Sample, Joseph Ossai, Khalid Kareem, Jeff Gunter
In the running: Wyatt Hubert, Noah Spence
Trags take: The only unit I’ve designated with an extra man because of the priority to load up on pass rushing, which the Bengals need to fortify behind the All-Pro Hendrickson and the always reliable Hubbard. Wyatt Hubert is a seventh-rounder from 2021 to watch and see if he can push for a spot on this or another roster in preseason.
DJ Reader, B.J. Hill, Zach Carter, Josh Tupou, Tyler Shelvin
In the running: Tariqious Tisdale
Trags take: Can Tisdale work his way from an undrafted rookie free agent out of Ole Miss to a spot on the roster or practice squad? And is Tyler Shelvin in better condition this camp and preseason to battle more competitively for playing time on this roster? Toward the end of last season, Shelvin showed glimpses. If that continues, that’s a good sign for 2-gap presence and playing time in short-yardage defensive looks.
Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Markus Bailey, Clay Johnston
In the running: Joe Bachie, Carson Wells, Keandre Jones, Clarence Hicks
Trags take: Joe Bachie is coming off an ACL while Bailey and Johnston are special teams regulars. The top three, Wilson, Pratt and Davis-Gaither are locks.
Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, Mike Hilton, Tre Flowers, Cam Taylor-Britt
In the running: John Brannon, Abu Daramy-Swaray, Allan George, Delonte Hood, Jalen Davis
Trags take: Awuzie, Apple, Hilton and Flowers are rock solid, if not spectacular. Their job as a unit is to take away big plays and continue to play as much bump-and-run as possible. Taylor-Britt will likely be brought along more conservatively than fellow rookie Dax Hill. The versatile and unheralded Davis will likely create a tough decision for the coaching staff.
Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Michael Thomas, Dax Hill, Tycen Anderson
In the running: Brandon Wilson, Trayvon Henderson, Jalen Davis
Trags take: Speaking of Hill, all eyes will be on the rookie as the Bates waiting game begins and presumably drags on in camp. Watch Michael Thomas closely in camp. After Bell and will Brandon Wilson still recovering from an ACL, he has the most experience in the middle without Bates around. Henderson is a dark horse here if injuries arise.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3):
In the running: None
Trags take: Not much to say if Shooter is healthy. 14-for-14 FGs in postseason and 20-for-20 overall in playoffs tells you all you need to know about the value of this newlywedded kicker.
In the running: Drue Chrisman
Trags take: The holder is such a critical part of the kicking team and Huber is incredibly reliable in this department. The Rams learned that in the Super Bowl when Johnny Hekker mishandled an extra point that could’ve cost dearly. Huber’s been around since 2009. That run should continue at least for one more season.
In the running: Cal Adomitis
Trags take: The biggest drama over Harris was his sneaking out of halftime of the Super Bowl to peek at the show with McPherson. But seriously, the Bengals did sign the best long snapper in college last year, Adomitis out of Pittsburgh, to offer a challenge. Harris didn’t miss a beat in OTAs. His snaps were perfect and so were Huber’s holds as McPherson drilled every kick with the pair seen to the media in the open sessions.