Cincinnati Bengals stock up, stock down
By Aaron Becker,2023-05-30
With training camps two months away, teams continue to evaluate their rosters. Here are the Cincinnati Bengals whose stock is trending up — and down.
Cam Taylor-Britt, cornerback: The Bengals threw Taylor-Britt into the action as a rookie following CB Chidobe Awuzie's injury in 2022. However, Cincinnati's 2022 second-round pick looked the part with 55 tackles, one forced fumble and six passes defensed in 10 games . Now projected to be a starter, Taylor-Britt aims to take another leap this season.
Pro Football Focus named Taylor-Britt the Bengals' " breakout candidate " for 2023. From Week 12 through the postseason, he earned a 74.8 PFF grade, which tied for 19th among 96 cornerbacks with at least 100 snaps over that period.
Irv Smith Jr., tight end: Many believed Cincinnati was going to add to its tight end room in the 2023 NFL Draft, but it didn't. That means Smith Jr. will start, just as he expected.
"I'm confident in my abilities, and they had a plan with me coming in. I'm here for a reason," Smith Jr. recently told reporters .
The 24-year-old has struggled to stay healthy, playing in eight games in 2022 and missing all of the 2021 season. However, if Smith Jr. can stay on the field, he can be a dangerous weapon for QB Joe Burrow. He has 91 catches for 858 yards and nine touchdowns since being drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Jonah Williams, offensive tackle: Cincinnati signed left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency, leading to Williams' request for a trade. With an apparent lack of suitors, however, he probably will remain with the Bengals, who are expected to move him to right tackle. He has experience playing the position.
But will Williams even be on the roster this season? Right tackle La'el Collins, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL late last season, told reporters that he's ahead of schedule in his recovery although his timeline for a return isn't known.
Chidobe Awuzie, cornerback: Awuzie has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career, and that trend continued in 2022. He appeared in just eight games for the Bengals and is now in a prove-it year in the final season of his contract.
Cincinnati also added insurance at the position in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft with cornerback D.J. Turner, who has 4.26 speed in the 40-yard dash . If Awuzie continues to deal with injuries, Turner could be thrown into action as Taylor-Britt was. That could mean Awuzie's days with the Bengals are numbered.