The Cincinnati Bengals came up short in the playoffs again last year, but still have the makings of a playoff team. The Bengals lost a few players on both sides of the ball and will be counting on a few players to step up and replace the ones who left. The Bengals want to at least win a playoff game, but they'll need a few players to have breakout seasons for that to happen.
Breakout seasons happen every year in the NFL. Sometimes, the player in question makes the leap from very good to superstar. Sometimes, a player goes from role player to key starter. So who will be the breakout players for the Bengals in 2016? We've put together four of the most likely candidates below.
WR Tyler Boyd
Yup, we're picking a rookie to start. But it makes perfect sense, as Boyd is ready to contribute right away and the Bengals really need the WR help. A.J. Green is locked in as the No. 1 WR, but the rest of the position is full of questions marks. Brandon LaFell might end up being the No. 2, but he is plagued by drops. Also on the roster are young and unproven players like James Wright and Mario Alford, who don't have the talent that Boyd does. And many Bengals fans don't even want Brandon Tate on the roster at this point. Boyd, the team's second round pick, could open the season as the team's slot WR. Don't be surprised if he puts up numbers that match some of the other rookie WRs.
OT Cedric Ogbuehi
The Bengals took an injured Ogbuehi in the first round last year. They knew he wouldn't contribute much, thanks to the presence of Andre Smith at RT and his injury. But Smith is gone and it's time for Ogbuehi to become the starter at RT. He'll have to beat out veteran Eric Winston and fellow second-year player Jake Fisher, but Ogbuehi should be the starter. He's the eventual replacement at LT for Andrew Whitworth, so don't be surprise if Ogbuehi plays better than Smith did last season.
CB Darqueze Dennard
Injuries and depth at CB have meant that Dennard hasn't played a whole lot in his first two seasons with the Bengals. However, the Bengals will need Dennard to step up this year. Leon Hall is unlikely to return, meaning Dennard will likely start across from Dre Kirkpatrick, with Adam Jones in the slot. While first rounder William Jackson will fight for playing time, it's more likely that Kirkpatrick is the one who sees a decrease in playing time. He was awful last year and the Bengals surely hope that Dennard can take over the No. 1 CB role this year.
S Shawn Williams
The Bengals lost Reggie Nelson in free agency, but have already have their replacement for him. Williams was a third round pick by the team in the 2013 NFL Draft and has been waiting for his chance to play. Williams will need to beat out Derron Smith, a 6th rounder in 2015, but he should be able to do so. He finally saw the field a bit more last season and showed some promise. Williams contract is also up after this season, so you can be sure he's itching to prove himself.Back to the Cincinnati Bengals Newsfeed