AFC North: Pre-camp look at the Cincinnati Bengals
Ahead of official training camps among the AFC North rivals of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Steel City Underground looks at each divisional teams’ NFL Draft results, free agency, and key moves made within those franchises.
The Cincinnati Bengals were the AFC North team to beat in 2021. Their meteoric rise from the basement to the Super Bowl last season has everyone curious about what they did during the off-season and 2022 NFL Draft in order to address concerns they had and how they’re planning to remain competitive during the 2022-23 NFL regular season.
Bengals draft six, focus on defensive speed
Cincinnati seems determined to be quicker on defense, a potential nod to the fact that the NFL is transitioning into a tempo that teams, especially on defense, need to be able to control consistently if they want to be competitive.
The Bengals had their eye on Daxton Hill as other teams called in attempt to trade back into the first round. Fearing those teams may grab the Michigan safety, Duke Tobin stood pat to grab the first safety Cincinnati has selected in the first round since Darryl Williams in 1992. Hill was selected at No. 31 overall.
“We felt great about Dax being available… It really was a welcome plus. I think everybody in the room felt that way.” – Duke Tobin, Bengals general manager
While wheeling and dealing picks, something Tobin admitted he doesn’t necessarily enjoy doing, the Bengals also selected the following players in the draft:
No. 60: Cam Taylor-Britt – CB (Nebraska)
No. 95: Zachary Carter – DT (Florida)
No. 136: Cordell Volson – OL (North Dakota State)
No. 166: Tycen Anderson – S (Toledo)
No. 252: Jeffrey Gunter – DE (Coastal Carolina)
Free agents added to solidify squad
With Jonah Williams as their lone returning starter on the offensive line, the Bengals knew they’d need to protect third-year quarterback Joe Burrow better than they had his rookie season and in their Super Bowl 56 loss to the Los Angeles Rams last season.
“I can’t wait to see what our line looks like this year compared to what we’ve had in the past,” Brian Callahan, offensive coordinator
The Bengals also signed, or re-signed veterans Eli Apple (CB), Hayden Hurst (TE), B.J. Hill (DT), Brandon Allen (QB), Michael J. Thomas (CB), Josh Tupou (DT), Michael Thomas (WR), and Clark Harris (LS).
Undrafted prospects, high hopes
As for undrafted free agents, the Bengals signed the following players for rookie camp and tryouts:
Cal Adomiti (LS, Pitt), Ben Brown (G/C, Ole Miss), Devin Cochran (OT, Georgia Tech), Allan George (CB, Vanderbilt), Jaivon Heiligh (LB, Coastal Carolina), Clarence Hicks (LB, Texas San Antonio), Delonte Hood (CB, Peru State), Shermari Jones (HB, Coastal Carolina), Kwamie Lassiter II (WR, Kansas), Desmond Noel (G, Fla. Atlantic), Kendric Pryor (WR, Wisconsin), Bookie Radpey-Hiles (S/CB, Washington), Justin Rigg (TE, Kentucky), Jack Sorenson (WR, Miami-Ohio), Tariqious Tisdale (DT/DE, Ole Miss), Carson Wells (LB, Colorado), and Abu Daramy-Swaray (CB, Colgate).
The Bengals officially signed Daramy-Swaray on May 13, after he completed rookie minicamp. In 2021, Daramy-Swaray played for the Potsdam Royals of the German Football League, but will officially be considered a “rookie” since he has now been given his first NFL contract
Undrafted free agent Tariqious Tisdale of Mississippi reportedly turned heads at rookie minicamp as the Bengals enter Tier II workouts. The 6-5, 285 pound DE/DT ran a 4.6 40-yard dash time and earned praise from defensive assistant Mark Duffner who said, “Height, weight, speed, he’s an impressive athlete.”
As with all 32 NFL teams, the Bengals are putting players through the paces in the hopes that the cream rises to the top and they can determine the best options for their 90-man roster and official training camp later this summer.