Late in the first quarter of their week two match-up with the Dallas Cowboys, the Cincinnati Bengals defense surrendered a rushing touchdown to Tony Pollard. The one yard score gave Dallas a 14 – 3 lead. The Cowboys would win the game 20 – 17, but linebacker Logan Wilson and crew wouldn’t allow another touchdown in the game.
The New York Jets wouldn’t score a touchdown in week three either. Week four brought the undefeated Miami Dolphins to town. They also would fail to find the end zone.
The 2022 season has not started how Bengals fans envisioned it, coming off a Super Bowl run last season. The offense sputtered and the team started with consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Cowboys team led by their backup quarterback.
Joe Burrow struggled throwing the football and took a number of sacks. Meanwhile, running back Joe Mixon couldn’t find any room to maneuver. The passing game, which thrived on big plays last year, was bottled and the offense suffered.
On the other side of the ball, though, an identity was being established. Led by Wilson, the Cincinnati Bengals defense was quietly establishing itself as one of the league’s best. Calling them a ragtag group might be pushing it, but the starting lineup is loaded with free agent cast-offs and mid-to-late round draft picks. They’re underrated, but after four weeks, it’s time they start getting the credit they deserve. Here are the names everyone needs to know.
Stars of the Cincinnati Bengals Defense
A 2020 third round pick, Logan Wilson has become a force in the middle of the Cincinnati Bengals defense. His instincts in the run game are terrific, and though he’s not as fast as some, he moves down the line and gets downhill in a hurry. He’s a sure tackler, but his versatility really makes him stand out. In his time in the NFL, he already has seven interceptions, which leads all linebackers since 2020. He’s building a Pro Bowl resume thus far in 2022.
The 2020 off-season saw the Bengals go on a spending spree, with defensive tackle DJ Reader as the centerpiece. The big run stuffer got a big payday — and has been worth every penny. An injury has him sidelined for a few weeks, but so far this season, he’s been dominant.
The power he generates allows him to fend off double-teams and even when he appears to be out of a play, he still manages to make tackles. His ability to shut down running games is a big part of what the team wants to do.
A former second round pick of the Cowboys, Chidobe Awuzie joined the Bengals prior to the 2021 season. While he’s neither the biggest, nor the fastest, cornerback in the league, his technique is as good as anybody’s and he rarely finds himself in a bad position. He and the rest of the secondary do a good job of limiting big plays and keeping opposing teams out of the end zone.
The 2020 off-season saw safety Vonn Bell as another addition to the Cincinnati Bengals defense. In his two seasons in Cincinnati, he has made some of the defense’s most iconic plays.
His hit on former Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is still social media fodder. He also sealed a trip to the Super Bowl with an overtime interception of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This season, he has brought physicality to the secondary and had two interceptions against the Dolphins.
Defensive lineman Sam Hubbard is one of the veteran leaders of the defense. He doesn’t get the recognition that his opposite, Trey Hendrickson, gets, but he is a playmaker nonetheless. He excels as a run defender, but is underappreciated as a pass rusher. He’s not flashy, but he has to be accounted for by opposing offensive lines.
The Bengals are a team loaded on offense. Burrow and his skill players are as talented as any offense in the league, despite the slow start. The defense, on the other hand, doesn’t have multiple top draft picks leading the way. But they’re getting it done anyway.
Logan Wilson and company aren’t grabbing headlines, but through four weeks, they’re putting their team in position to win games. Their names may not be well-known right now, but if they keep it up, it won’t be long until everyone knows who they are.
The NFL offseason is here and NFL Draft season is in full swing. Mock drafts are being written, scouting reports are being put together, and podcasts are recording. With the NFL Combine now in the rearview mirror, we have a more data to work with. Free agency and Pro Days are coming, but it’s time to take another swing at what the Draft might look like.
Tackle Cam Robinson will be back after being given the franchise tag by the Jaguars, but the offensive line situation is by no means solved. Neal could easily become the best lineman on the team quickly and the long-term solution at left tackle.
2. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibideaux, Edge – Oregon
The Lions grab the highest graded player in the draft here. Questions about his effort are overblown, but his ceiling is sky-high and he makes an instant impact. This is just too early for any of the quarterbacks in this class.
3. Houston Texans: Jermaine Johnson, Edge – Florida St
Everybody is predicting a certain talented safety here, and that makes sense. Pass rushers are more valuable, though, and Johnson is the highest graded one available. He is long, fast, and plays with violence in his eyes.
4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, Safety – Notre Dame
The Jets are another team that needs everything. Hamilton is one of the elite players in this draft, so despite the positional value argument, taking the best player on the board makes sense for them. He’s an impact player from the start.
5. New York Giants: Aiden Hutchinson, Edge – Michigan
Getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks has to be a priority for the Giants next year. They were near the bottom of the league in sacks, and Hutchinson falling a little bit makes this selection a no-brainer for them.
6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Line – North Carolina St
Quarterback is the biggest need in Carolina, but there’s major risk in taking on this high. Instead, getting a top offensive line prospect to protect whoever is under center makes sense. Ekwonu is an athletic blocker who could go even higher than this.
Guards don’t often find themselves being taken inside the top ten, but Green is an exception. He grades out as the top offensive lineman in the class here, as he’s long, athletic, and impossible to move off his spot.
The Falcons would probably love to trade back and get some extra picks here. They desperately need receiver help, but it’s early for that. They could also use some secondary help and Gardner has all the traits a team could want.
It seems destined that quarterback Malik Willis is the pick here, but it’s still a bit early. Walker, on the other hand, could be an absolute steal here and is rising up boards quickly after the NFL Combine, where he shined.
10. New York Jets: Charles Cross, Offensive Line – Mississippi St
There are question marks up front for the Jets going into 2022. There are more questions than answers, particularly at tackle. Cross hopefully solves some of those issues. He is as technically sound as any tackle in this class.
11. Washington Commanders: Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver – Arkansas
The two Super Bowl contestants from this year proved that having elite weapons matters. The Commanders have their quarterback, so they get another big-time option to go with Terry McLaurin on the outside.
There’s some risk associated with picking Stingley here, but if he returns to the form of a few seasons ago, he’s a steal. The Vikings are barren at cornerback, and this could be a homerun. One of the linebackers could be an option as well.
13. Cleveland Browns: Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle – Georgia
Positional value says this is too high for Davis, but players like him don’t come around that often. The Browns are thin on the interior of their defensive line and Davis is a monster and an athletic freak, even if he isn’t a three-down player.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Devonte Wyatt, Defensive Line – Georgia
With the board falling the way it has, an offensive lineman is a bit of a reach. The Ravens need some bodies on the defensive line as well, and Wyatt is the best on the board. He plays with quickness and provides plenty of pass rush upside.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, Linebacker – Utah
With three picks in the first round, the Eagles can address a lot of needs. First up, improving the defense, which needs help at all three levels. Here, they take the highest graded linebacker in the class, and Lloyd probably starts from day one.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: Trent McDuffie, Cornerback – Washington
It’s back to the defensive side of the ball, and they pick the best available cornerback on the board this time. He has good length, while also possessing good instincts for the position. He’s versatile enough to play inside or outside.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Nakobe Dean, Linebacker – Georgia
With wide receiver Mike Williams re-signed, the focus is on the defense. They have a major need at defensive tackle, but the board didn’t fall in their favor. Adding a rangy linebacker to fly around the field helps out as well.
The Saints have to get out of cap trouble this season, and then ideally begin to compete again in 2023. Drafting the best quarterback in the class is the start of that. Willis may need some time, but has the tools to be a star.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: George Karlaftis, Edge – Purdue
Once again, the Eagles address the defense. Karlaftis plays hard and knows how to get to the quarterback. He may not be as physically gifted as other pass rushers in this draft, but he makes up for it with technique and motor.
The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger leaves the Steelers with a gigantic hole on offense. A trade for a veteran might be a better option, but as of now, they draft an exciting player who has some flaws in his game, but has a high ceiling.
21. New England Patriots: Andrew Booth Jr, Cornerback – Clemson
This is as simple as drafting a guy to replace a guy they lost. JC Jackson appears to be headed to another team this offseason, leaving the Patriots short at cornerback. Booth is another of the great corner prospects in this draft.
22. Las Vegas Raiders: Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver – Alabama
With Russell Wilson headed to Denver, and the rise of Justin Herbert, the AFC West is becoming a division defined by offense. Derek Carr needs more weapons and Williams, once fully recovered from injury, might be the best of this class.
This is a steal at this point. The Cardinals can certainly use another pass rusher, but Ojabo is worthy of a top 15 pick. In this case, he slipped down a bit, and Arizona will take it. The former Wolverine is explosive and has some nice pass rush moves.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Zion Johnson, Offensive Line – Boston College
The Cowboys offensive line has been an area of strength for a long time. However, age, injuries, and defections are taking a toll. Johnson may go even higher than this, as his stock is rising. He likely would start at left guard right away.
25. Buffalo Bills: Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver – Ohio St
Having one of the league’s best young quarterbacks means the Bills are contenders every year. Keeping his weapons stocked will be important though. Wilson might be the best player on the board here, and gives Allen another big-time target.
26. Tennessee Titans: Chris Olave, Wide Receiver – Ohio St
The Titans certainly need to address the offensive line, but the need for receiver help is underrated. AJ Brown is fantastic, but Julio Jones is on the downside of his career. Olave is a fantastic route runner and has some much needed speed for the Titans too.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyler Linderbaum, Center – Iowa
The offensive line in Tampa has taken a hit this offseason. They need help along the interior and with Ryan Jenson entering free agency. Linderbaum has size and length concerns, but is technically sound and has plenty of power.
28. Green Bay Packers: Drake London, Wide Receiver – USC
The Packers have famously failed to use top picks on weapons for Aaron Rodgers over the years. Need meets value here and they finally get him some help. London has great size and hands, and he will be a nice “money down” target.
29. Miami Dolphins: Trevor Penning, Offensive Line – Northern Iowa
Penning made himself some money at the NFL Combine and he could wind up going much higher than this. Miami has to protect the quarterback better going forward if they want to be contenders in an increasingly difficult AFC.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Daxton Hill, Safety – Michigan
The Chiefs secondary was a liability in 2021, particularly in their late season and playoff losses to the Bengals. Hill is a rangy safety with ball skills. The other option here would be a cornerback, but Hill is the highest graded available defensive back on the board.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Sean Rhyan, Offensive Lineman – UCLA
The offensive line cost the Bengals a Super Bowl ring. They’ll use free agency too, but getting a potentially dominant player in the draft too is advisable. Rhyan would benefit from a move to guard, where his strength and use of leverage would allow him to thrive.
Simply put, it’s time for a new era at quarterback in Detroit. Pickett could be a top 15 selection, but small hand measurements hurt him. He has an intelligence for the position, and has an NFL-quality arm to show off for his new team.
Kenyon Green grew up and played high school football in Texas. He was a five-star recruit who was highly sought after by top colleges. The third overall ranked player in his class, he wound up choosing Texas A&M after much deliberation. Now, he’s a top prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at the Kenyon Green scouting report.
In 2021, Green further showed off his versatility. He had starts at every position on the line except for center, and he thrived at all of them. He won multiple SEC Offensive Lineman of the week awards during the season, then first-team All-SEC and All-American honors at season’s end.
Kenyon Green Scouting Report
At the snap, he pops up quickly and is ready to block immediately.
Has a great base, and it allows him to hold up against any bull rush he encounters.
He has a nasty demeanor and can dominate as a run blocker when he gets moving downhill.
Played a fantastic game against Alabama and Will Anderson, who might have been the best pass rusher in the country.
Has good size, but also moves fluidly and has quick feet, which enables him to succeed at both guard and tackle.
His intelligence is obvious when watching him pick up blitzes and move from one block to another.
He can play four of the five offensive line positions effectively.
Has tremendous strength in both his lower body and in his hands. He is hard to move off his spot.
His hands can be a little bit inconsistent at times. It could lead to some holding penalties.
Not quite as technically sound when playing tackle.
The scouting report shows Kenyon Green is as complete a package as a team is likely to find in an offensive lineman in the NFL Draft. He has size, length, power, and the demeanor needed to not only succeed at the next level, but dominate.
Interior lineman don’t typically go as high in the draft as tackles. However, Green might buck that trend. He’s certainly a talented player who is the best at his position in this class, and one of the best overall players at any position.
This 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with quality offensive linemen. There will be several picked in the first round and early on day two. Green grades as the best of them. He has the tools to be one of the true elite players to come out of this year’s draft.
Matt Corral is a quarterback prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. He played for the University of Mississippi from 2018 to 2021. From California, he committed to Southern California originally, but wound up at Ole Miss. He was a top 100 recruit in 2018, and the sixth highest rated pocket passer in his class. What does the Scouting report say about Matt Corral and his prospects at the next level?
Corral took a redshirt year to begin his college career, starting just four games the following year. The flashes of what he would become were there, however. Despite a limited starting role, he finished as the team’s leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
In 2020, Corral’s career took off. In his first season as the full-time starter, he threw for over 3,000 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns, finishing at the top of the lists for several awards and garnering attention.
Corral’s 2021 season was also strong. He once again passed for another 3,000 yards, though the touchdowns dropped to 20. He also drastically cut down on bad throws, dropping his interception total from 14 the previous year to just five in 2021. Once again, he was a finalist for several awards, and after his season ended, he announced his entry into the NFL Draft.
Strong-armed and capable of getting the ball down the field or into tight windows.
Throws with accuracy and anticipation, especially on short dropbacks for slants or other quick throws.
Has shown an accurate deep ball when he’s able to set his feet and keep his mechanics straight.
He’s a good runner with the football when necessary, and can extend drives with his legs.
Elusive inside the pocket and buys himself extra time to throw.
Has confidence in his arm and isn’t afraid to make any throw.
Sometimes a little quick to abandon the pocket and speeds up his processing unnecessarily.
Pressure can throw his footwork off, causing poor throws that either sail too high or get intercepted.
Accuracy is reduced exponentially when he’s forced to throw off-platform.
Sometimes lacks the ability to put the right amount of touch on the ball, resulting in overthrows.
There are certainly some intriguing parts to Matt Corral’s game. His arm is NFL quality and he has the kind of confidence that coaches love. The ability he brings to extend plays and drives is a necessity in today’s game.
There are some big concerns though. NFL pass rushers are going to force him to throw on the run, and he struggled with his accuracy in those circumstances. A good coach will work on his mechanics and footwork under pressure, but he might not be ready to play in year one.
Corral will need to go to a team with a quality quarterbacks coach and a staff willing to invest some time in letting him develop. Positional value will move him up boards, and his ceiling is high, but he has a low floor as well.
Darian Kinnard is an offensive tackle from the University of Kentucky. This is Around the Block Network’s Darian Kinnard scouting report.
Darian Kinnard was born in Ohio and raised in Tennessee. Eventually, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio to play at St Ignatius High School, which was a football power. At the end of his high school career, he was rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN and chose the University of Kentucky as his college. Kinnard chose the Wildcats over some other top schools like Penn State and UCLA.
He played early at Kentucky, and as a sophomore, he locked up the starting right tackle job. Kinnard thrived at both tackle spots in his college career, and was rewarded with numerous honors for his play, including an All-American nomination. He also earned a spot as an Outland Trophy semifinalist.
Darian Kinnard Scouting Report
At nearly 6’5″ and 324 lbs (Senior Bowl), he has the size to play at the next level.
He has huge, powerful hands that he uses effectively to control pass rushers of all sorts.
Kinnard has a great understanding of leverage. He uses his size and strength, and good footwork to anchor as well as any player in this draft.
He’s graced with great length, with arms that measured nearly 35 inches at the Senior Bowl.
He can dominate in the run game. He moves better than it looks like he should be able to, and he loves to put guys on the ground.
With three years under his belt as a starter in the SEC, he has big-game experience.
If he plays tackle in the NFL, he does move well laterally, and with his length, would be able to matchup with speed rushers pretty well.
Kinnard can be inconsistent with his hands. He has occasional missed punches and hand placement issues.
There are some technical refinements needed if he is to be a tackle, which is why many see him as a guard in the NFL.
His footwork can be sloppy at times in pass sets.
Darian Kinnard Scouting Report Summary
Overall, there is a ton to like in the scouting report about Darian Kinnard. His length and power can’t be taught, and his experience against NFL talent every week is important. He has natural gifts others just don’t have.
His ability to get out in the run game and block downfield is something NFL coaches will covet. The mean streak he brings will have offensive line coaches drooling. He could wind up hearing his name called on day one of the NFL Draft.
The positives to Kinnard’s game are impossible to ignore. Whether at guard or at tackle, he projects as a starting NFL offensive lineman and could wind up a dominant one.