Solving The Mystery of Quarterback Play in 2022

The 2022 NFL Season is off to an interesting start, and the quarterback position has some of the most intriguing trends thus far.

We are about a month into the NFL season: the perfect time for storylines to develop, narratives to run rampant, and for trends to begin to take shape. We have certainly seen our fair share of each since the beginning of the season. However, none quite contend with the oddities in 2022 at the most important position in sports: the quarterback.

Quarterback play is, far and away, one of the most difficult levels of success to quantify. Some use advanced stats, carefully calculated metrics which mean nothing without context, while others use “the eye test”, rummaging their way through hours of film in hopes of validating their takes. Both are certainly valuable, but neither can explain the trends we have seen this year.

To put it bluntly, 2022 has been one of the weirdest, and statistically worst, years of quarterback play we have seen in quite some time. The mainstays of years’ past have been inconsistent and, in some cases, outright disappointing, thinning out the upper echelon of signal callers.

Unless, that is, you look at the top of any of the league’s advanced stat categories, in which you will find many new faces. However, these aren’t the anomalies of years’ past, such as Mahomes in 2018 or Herbert in 2020. No athletic freak getting his first true chance with a high powered offense. Rather, a collection of veterans and castaways whose offenses have seen astronomical jumps through the first month.

The most astounding example thus far? None other than Geno Smith.

No Russ, No Problem

When Seattle shipped off Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for a king’s ransom, it was widely anticipated that the Seahawks would not only be inheriting a downgrade in quarterback play, but a substantial one at that. However, Geno Smith has been, by almost all accounts, phenomenal for Seattle through the first five games.

Smith is currently first in passer rating, completion rate over expected, completion rate, and a higher average intended air yards, per NextGenStats, than Patrick Mahomes (8.8 to 7.7).

Smith had largely been written off by the league after his tenure with the New York Jets. He was viewed as a career backup and, despite his nine year career, only has two more starts than Justin Herbert. However, being called to start the season for only the third time in his career, he has outplayed his predecessor in future Hall-of-Famer Russell Wilson.

A Healthy Balance

However, this isn’t the statistical anomaly we typically see from advanced stats. Smith’s success has transferred over to the tape as well. His ability to make tight-window throws along with making big plays under pressure, in particular, have been the catalysts to his success.

Geno Smith throws with timing and anticipation to the end zone.

What has distinguished him from the ‘efficiency darlings’ of the past has been the carry over of efficiency to aggressive throws. Typically, many stats favor the conservative and those quick to take the check down. Geno Smith has once again been the outlier, combining getting the ball out quickly with a knack for hitting his occasional shots downfield.

Geno Smith has been efficient on his aggressive throws.

Smith has found ways through the first month to maximize his talent in ways that Wilson had struggled with. Without their former Super Bowl champion, many expected Seattle to be in the running for the number one pick. However, they’re still in the thick of a difficult NFC West with Geno at the helm. If these quarterback trends continue throughout 2022 for Smith, it’s feasible to see Seattle sneaking into a Wild Card spot.

Rocky Mountain Disaster

It is the other side of the trade involving Seattle and Denver that, for multiple reasons, has been a struggle thus far. Wilson’s had a rough go of it to start his career in Denver. While it isn’t all on him, he certainly bears some of the blame.

Wilson has long garnered the reputation as a playmaker. He has been regarded as somebody who can not only deliver in the pocket, but also when the pocket becomes murky. This year, Wilson has tried many of the same plays, putting a supreme level of trust in his weaponry. However, he’s been slower to reads, unwilling to let a play die, and all around worse as a passer.

As someone who has disregarded throwing over the middle of the field, Wilson made his money on his “moon ball”- the deep throws down the sideline to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were the center of his game. However, when defenses are taking away the deep game, Wilson has been just as aggressive, albeit in risky situations.

Per NextGenStats, Wilson ranks top ten in both average intended air yards and aggressiveness percentage. However, this has resulted in a completion percentage 6.3 percentage points below expectation, among the likes of Joe Flacco and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Late Night Woes

All of this was on full display on primetime against the Indianapolis Colts. More specifically, on the throw shown below. Wilson feels pressure early, in large part due to the Broncos line, which hasn’t helped him much. However, the game situation would clearly dictate throwing the ball away.

It’s third down in the fourth quarter of a low scoring game. Living to play another down would likely mean the end of the game. Denver would be up by six, and Indianapolis had instilled no confidence in scoring a touchdown.

Despite this, Wilson decides to live and die by the big play, forcing the ball down the field and vastly overthrowing his target. Thus, Indianapolis is able to stay within a field goal and get the game to overtime.

It was in this overtime period, specifically the last play of the game, where Wilson and Hackett showed their pitfalls once again.

Denver has the ball on the five yard line on fourth and one. It’s do-or-die. If they fail to convert, Indianapolis wins the game. All Denver needs is a yard to keep the drive alive. Considering Denver’s rushing success on this drive, running the ball would likely be the solution. But Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson had other plans.

Uncharacteristic Mistakes

Hackett comes out in a light gun look, making it clear that he wants the end zone, and draws up a good play for Wilson. A simple pick to his right opens up KJ Hamler coming over the middle for what should be an easy touchdown.

However, Wilson, with all day to throw it, continues to stare down Courtland Sutton to the left. Keep in mind that Sutton is guarded by Stephon Gilmore, who already has a pick in this game.

Stephon Gilmore ends the game for Indianapolis.

Wilson continues to stare, forces the ball to his first read, and never sees Hamler. Gilmore is able to knock the ball down and win the game, on what looked like a rookie mistake from Wilson. It’s not often that we see a ten-year veteran stare down his first read this badly, much less force it into coverage.

The Broncos were widely expected to be a Super Bowl contender this year with Wilson and Hackett. However, both clearly have issues that must be ironed out, and are suffering because of them early on.

Super Bowl Hangover?

The Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson aren’t alone in their struggles, as the Super Bowl runners up have had their fair share as well. In the Cincinnati Bengals’ case, it’s also due to a combination of factors.

Last year, the Bengals’ deep attack was one of the best the league has ever seen. Jamar Chase and Tee Higgins excelled in one-on-one situations down the sideline, and Joe Burrow was hitting them at an all-time clip. It was the perfect storm of high-level deep accuracy and elite deep threats. Through this, they were able to annihilate defenses, and specifically single-high shells.

That being the primary feature of their offense was enough to get them a spot in the Super Bowl. In their championship bout, Cincinnati largely competed with the Los Angeles Rams. However, it was then that we began to see a counter form against their high-powered offense.

Simply put, teams began to move into more two-high defenses, preventing the deep passes the Bengals thrived upon. Along with this, Cincy faced more zone defenses, leading to fewer one-on-one situations for Chase and Higgins.

Not Enough Help

The typical counter to this would be to run the ball, and the numbers are simple. Coming out in two-high takes a player out of the box, and often gives a numbers advantage to the offense. The Bengals, on the other hand, haven’t been efficient enough in the run game to force teams back down. This is, in large part, due to their offensive line play.

It was well documented that Cincinnati’s fatal flaw last season was their offensive line. Joe Burrow was sacked more than any other quarterback, and the run blocking wasn’t much better.

Thus, the Bengals spent significant capital this offseason on revamping the line. Signing La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa, they hoped the veteran presence up front would solidify a contender. However, it’s clear that they haven’t gelled yet as a unit, and their individual play hasn’t been up to par either.

Despite these struggles, Cincinnati has largely been in close games, which is where more struggles — specifically Zac Taylor’s and Joe Burrow’s — have begun to show. The former’s play calling has been predictable and inefficient. Resorting to trick plays in the red zone and poorly managing short yardage situations have stood out among Taylor’s woes.

Law of Averages

Some of the blame, as stated before, does fall on Burrow’s shoulders. Unlike last year, the expectation wasn’t to hit on a historic percentage of difficult passes. However, this year has certainly been a fall from grace.

Along with the successful one-on-one shots being few and far between, Burrow has tried to overcompensate elsewhere. This was on full display in Week 1, where he threw four interceptions. What stood out on these plays was how much Burrow forced the ball into tight windows. Rather than taking what was in front of him, he tried too hard to be a playmaker and wrote checks that his arm — along with a majority of NFL arms, for that matter — couldn’t cash.

Minkah Fitzpatrick takes a Joe Burrow pass back for a pick-six.

This over-aggressiveness, along with the lack of help from his offensive line and coaching staff, has led to struggles for Burrow. While potentially predictable, it’s certainly uncharacteristic for what we’ve seen to this point in his career. Burrow has looked better recently, in particular against a depleted Dolphins secondary.

He will almost definitely improve down the stretch, but his quarterback play has been an interesting trend thus far in 2022, to say the least.

Other Interesting Trends in 2022 Quarterback Play

While Smith, Wilson, and Burrow have been the most interesting three, they aren’t the only quarterbacks to play outside of their expectations so far in 2022. Matthew Stafford and the Rams have struggled on offense, largely due to their offensive line play. Going into Week 5, they ranked 19th in pass-block win rate. When coupled with Stafford’s elbow injury concerns and the loss of Odell Bekcham Jr., regression has been rough.

On the flip side of the 2022 quarterback trends, we have also seen the development of several young quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts rank third and ninth in passer rating, up drastically from last season. Each with new and improved weapons and circumstances, they have taken advantage of a great opportunity. Both were in their “prove-it year”, and they have shown out to this point.

No article about the quarterback trends of 2022 would be complete without mention of Cooper Rush in Dallas. Now 5-0 in his career as a starter, Rush has kept the Cowboys afloat in relief of Dak Prescott.

However, it’s clear their offense misses their 40 million dollar quarterback and will start him when he returns. That isn’t to discount Rush, though, who has shown he belongs and made the most of his opportunity.

The Cowboys are certainly a better offense with Dak Prescott in the lineup.

The year is clearly still very early for quarterbacks. We may very well see the high risers fall back to Earth, or positive regression for the struggling veterans. However, it certainly has been a different year to say the least.

The NFL always has something new to offer, and their most important position has been no different. It will be exciting to see how these quarterback trends progress and change as the 2022 season moves on.

Cincinnati Bengals defense: Logan Wilson leads underrated squad

Logan Wilson (Justin K Aller/Getty Images)

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

Logan Wilson

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.

DJ Reader

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.

Chidobe Awuzie

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.

Vonn Bell

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.

Sam Hubbard

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.

AFC North Preview: Off-season Recap and Predictions

AFC North Preview

The Big Ben and Joe Flacco days are over in the AFC North now, but it is still one of the closest divisions in the NFL. Four teams with elite superstars believe they can win it this year. Let’s take a look at what each team did this offseason, and what to expect from each AFC North team in our final preview before Sunday’s kickoff.

AFC North Preview

4. Cleveland Browns

Key losses – WR Rashard Higgins, CB M.J. Stewart, FB Andy Janovich, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Hooper, C J.C. Tretter, QB Baker Mayfield, QB Case Keenum, LB Mack Wilson

Key additions – WR Jakeem Grant, QB Jacoby Brissett, QB Deshaun Watson, DT Taven Bryan, P Corey Bojorquez, C Ethan Pocic, WR Amari Cooper, DE Chase Winovich, CB Martin Emerson, LB Alex Wright, WR David Bell, K Cade York

Re-signed – DE Jadeveon Clowney (1-year), S Ronnie Harrison (1-year). RB D’Ernest Johnson (1-year), LB Anthony Walker Jr. (1-year)

Extensions – TE David Njoku (4-years, $56 million), CB Denzel Ward (5-years, $100 million), QB Deshaun Watson (5-years, $230 million)

Needless to say, it was a rough 2021 for the Browns as they finished 8-9. Even so, this off-season could’ve been even worse. They brought in some talent, but also criticism, by trading for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson will be suspended for the first 11 games of the season after receiving a huge contract and that could prove to be detrimental.

After a season ranked 18th in the NFL, the Browns offense could get off to a rough start. Due to Watson’s suspension, they will have Jacoby Brissett starting under center. They have a top-tier offensive line, but Brissett’s inability to be a quality starter will hold the offense back. They brought in receiver Amari Cooper to help, but with Donovan Peoples-Jones as your #2, they will be a bottom-tier group.

The line will help in the run game though. With the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, they should be a top rushing team again. Harrison Bryant is back to try and prove he can be the long-term starter at tight end. This offense will struggle with Brissett, but should be top-ten with Watson.

The defense ranked third last season in total defense and will look to continue to repeat that success. The line has elite defensive end Myles Garrett, but I’m not sold on the other pieces there. Garrett can bolster them to a top-15 group, maximum. They have a nice linebacker room with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah next to Anthony Walker, who should have a good season this year.

Their secondary is very good, with Denzel Ward being a star at cornerback. Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II played great in coverage last season and could improve. The safety tandem is solid, even after a rough season last year from John Johnson III. This defense could fall from its ranking last season but should still be top-15.

Prediction

This team would’ve been a playoff contender if it wasn’t for the Watson suspension. Since it happened, I have them finishing 6-11, and 3-3 against the AFC North. A bad start will hinder their chances.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

Key losses – WR James Washington, ILB Joe Schobert, WR Juju Smith-Schuster, QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, OG Trai Turner

Key additions – OG James Daniels, ILB Myles Jack, C Mason Cole, QB Mitchell Trubisky, CB Levi Wallace, WR/ST Gunner Olszewski, S Damontae Kazee, DT Larry Ogunjobi, OL Jesse Davis, LB Malik Reed, QB Kenny Pickett, WR George Pickens, DL Demarvin Leal

Re-signed – CB Ahkello Witherspoon (2-years), S Terrell Edmunds (1-year)

Extensions – WR Diontae Johnson (2-years, $36 million)

Ben Roethlisberger’s last season ended after going 9-7-1, squeaking into the playoffs. They move now to quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett to compete for the job. Head coach Mike Tomlin is back looking to keep his streak alive of not having a losing season. However, it will be tough to do that in a loaded AFC.

Big Ben’s last year was anything but pretty. They finished 23rd in total offense, and they may have gotten worse. Wideout Juju Smith-Schuster left for Kansas City, and we don’t know how good — or not good — Trubisky or Pickett will be. Trubisky is starting week one, but with a bottom-three offensive line, he’ll have a tough time keeping the job.

Najee Harris is looking to improve on his 3.9 yards per carry last season. He showed signs of being a superstar in this league and will need to improve to keep that “future superstar” narrative.

The receiving corps is solid with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. They’re getting help from rookie receiver George Pickens, who has looked good so far. They’ll also have Pat Freiermuth at tight end, and he is looking to prove he can be the long-term option there.

The defense took a step back last season, and I expect them to remain in a similar spot. They ranked 24th in the league, but have one of the best pass rushes in the league. T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward lead the way as some of the NFL’s best at their positions. A top-five line is followed by an improved linebacker room. Bringing in Myles Jack to play alongside Devin Bush could be a real force this season.

The secondary is what hurts the Steelers, and in a pass heavy league, that is not good. Levi Wallace is with Cameron Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon, which creates a lackluster cornerback group. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds is a great duo at safety, but I’m just not sure they can make up for the cornerbacks.

Prediction

A new quarterback behind a bad offensive line will lead to a bad offense in 2022, and I believe Mike Tomlin’s streak will end. I have the Steelers going 7-10 after finishing 2-4 against the AFC North. The only chance at the playoffs is their defense carrying them.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Key losses – OT Riley Reiff, TE C.J. Uzomah, OG Quinton Spain

Key additions – OT La’el Collins, C Ted Karras, TE Hayden Hurst, OG Alex Cappa, S Daxton Hill, CB Cam Taylor-Britt, DL Zachary Carter, C Ted Karras

Re-signed – CB Eli Apple (1-year), DT Josh Tupou (1-year), WR Stanley Morgan (2-years), QB Brandon Allen (1-year), Jessie Bates (Franchise Tag), DT B.J. Hill (3-years)

Extensions – HC Zac Taylor (5-years)

The Bengals reached the Super Bowl last season, and head coach Zac Taylor was rewarded with a 5-year extension. Even after last year’s run, they added more talent to their roster. Yet, they are still not looked at as real contenders. They finished 10-7 last season, so we’ll have to see if they can improve on that.

The offense is almost identical to last season with quarterback Joe Burrow leading the way. They finished 13th in the NFL last season in total offense after a monster season by Ja’Marr Chase. He is the center of one of the top receiving corps in the league. Burrow and Chase have the highest expectations for a QB-WR duo this season.

The offensive line has improved over the years, and is finally top-ten. They spent big there in free agency, and it should pay off. Three big moves in La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa will help open up holes for running back Joe Mixon. This offense is going to keep getting better as their guys get more experience.

The Bengals finished 18th in total defense after ranking 26th in passing defense. They should still be solid against the run with great linebackers and defensive line. Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson are looking to build off a strong 2021 as the starting linebackers. The strong season helped lead them to a fifth-ranked finish against the run.

The secondary is much improved with rookie safety Daxton Hill coming in. He will work with and next to an amazing duo of Jessie Bates III and Von Bell. Mike Hilton led the corners, and Chidobe Awuzie showed he can be the #2 in Cincy. Eli Apple has been inconsistent, but provides some help behind Hilton and Awuzie.

Prediction

The national media isn’t sold on the Bengals, and neither am I. However, they will make the playoffs at 11-6, while going 4-2 against the AFC North. It was a surprise to see a Super Bowl run last year, and I would be surprised again this season.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Key losses – WR Marquise Brown, C Bradley Bozeman, CB Tavon Young, LB Chris Board, S Deshon Elliott, WR Sammy Watkins, CB Anthony Averett, P Sam Koch, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, DC Don Martindale

Key additions – S Marcus Williams, OT Morgan Moses, DT Michael Pierce, RB Mike Davis, CB Kyle Fuller, RB Kenyan Drake, S Kyle Hamilton, C Tyler Linderbaum, OLB David Ojabo, DT Travis Jones, P Jordan Stout

Re-signed – FB Patrick Richard (3-years), ILB Josh Bynes (1-year), DE Calais Campbell (2-years), DE Justin Houston (1-year)

Extensions – K Justin Tucker (4-years, $24 million), HC John Harbaugh (3-years)

It was a tough season for the Ravens last year, as they finished 8-9 and last in the AFC North. It felt like injury after injury for them, but now they are back and healthy. They traded away wideout Marquise Brown, as he wasn’t loving his time in Baltimore. With Lamar healthy and ready to go, they are looking to make it back to the playoffs.

Baltimore ranked sixth in total offense last season behind another great rushing attack. Lamar Jackson is looking to return to MVP form after a battle-filled 2021. Their offensive line has the potential to be great with Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses as the starting tackles. This will help the run-heavy Ravens wear down defenses with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Davis.

The receiver room got weaker with the trade of Brown, but they still have some guys to watch. Rashod Bateman showed flashes of being able to be a #1 WR, but Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson behind him could hold the group back. Tight end Mark Andrews is looking to continue being elite, as he’ll open up the field for Lamar.

The defense struggled last year, ranking 24th in total defense. The secondary should be back to being elite with Marcus Peters coming back from missing all of last season. With one of the best corners in Marlon Humphrey next to him, the cornerbacks are looking like the best group in the league. Marcus Williams joins the safety group alongside rookie Kyle Hamilton to create a scary tandem.

The defensive line is still solid with Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce. I’m waiting for Patrick Queen’s monster season, and it could be this year. The linebacker room is above average with Josh Bynes next to him. This defense is healthy again and should be top-five in the league.

Prediction

I believe people are forgetting how good Lamar Jackson is. They are contenders, when healthy, and we’re going to be reminded about that this season. I have the Ravens finishing 12-5 after going 2-4 against the AFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals RAS: Defense

Thanks for checking out my second part on the Cincinnati Bengals RAS — this time we are tackling the defense. If you haven’t read it yet you should also read about the offense. The Bengals historical picks can also be viewed if you like and want go further back. Again we are going back to 2017. So let’s jump into it:

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Cincinnati Bengals Defense RAS Breakdown

Defensive line:

The Bengals have drafted five defensive linemen since 2017. Ryan Glasgow, Andrew Brown, Renell Wren, Tyler Shelvin, and Zachary Carter. Interestingly enough, there is not much of a height difference between them. They are all between 6’2″ and 6’4″. There is, though, a large difference in weight with the lightest being 282 and the heaviest being 350. It does seem they like their defensive line with long arms. All have 33 1/2″ arms or longer.

Now the average RAS score comes out to a 6.36, which isn’t all that special in of itself. But, if you remove Tyler Shelvin and his really bad .86 RAS, it jumps to a 7.74. Three of the players have RAS scores over 8. So you can say this is one position they find athleticism important.

Now looking at specific testing, four of the five did score at least ok in explosion drills. 40 speed seems to be of some importance. Four of the five ran a 5.13 or faster. Agility drills seem somewhat similar to explosion testing, in that four of the five tested at least a little above average. Bench does not seem to be of importance as they range from 19 reps to 31.

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Edge:

Now here is a position the Cincinnati Bengals have invested a lot of draft capital in. They have drafted eight since 2017: Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, Same Hubbard, Khalid Kareem, Joseph Ossai, Cameron Sample, Wyatt Hubert, and Jeffrey Gunter. We only have testing on seven of the eight.

They average out to a real solid 8.29 RAS score, and none scored lower than a 5.98. There was a big variance in height, with the shortest being 6’1 5/8″ and the tallest being 6’5 3/8″. Weight wise they are between 255 and 270, with six being 258 or heavier. So you can say they are middle of the road when it comes to weight. They like their guys 260ish to 270. Arm length does not seem to be of importance. They vary from 31″ to 34 3/8″.

They all scored at least good testing on explosion drills. Five of the seven had vertical jumps of 35″ or more. The broad jump does not seem as important, with only three jumping 10′ or more.

As for speed testing, it seems they rely more on 20-yard dash than 40 or even 10. Five of the seven posted elite 2- yard dash scores, with all posting a 2.7 or faster. Agility testing also seems to be somewhat important. One of the seven did not do agility testing. Four of the six posted very good or elite agility scores, with even Gunter posting solid agility scores.

Linebackers:

Linebacker is also a position the Bengals have invested a lot of draft capital in. Duke Tobin has drafted seven linebackers since 2017. They are Jordan Evans, Malik Jefferson, Germaine Pratt, Deshaun Davis, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey. We don’t have testing on the last two.

The five average RAS score is a healthy 7.85. Davis brings that score down a bit with his 2.65. There is some variance in height, with the shortest at 5’11” (Davis) and tallest at a hair under 6’3″ (Evans). Weight wise, though, there is not a lot of variance. Davis-Gaither is the lightest at 224, but after him the rest are between 232-241. Arm length they are all kind of similar, with six of them between 31″-32″.

This seems to be another position where explosion testing is somewhat important. Four of the five Bengals defenders that we have RAS testing on all had sold-to-elite explosion scores. Speed, though, seems to be super important to the Bengals. Four of the five ran a 4.63 or faster 40-yard dash. Agility also seems like a front office wide focus. Again here, four of the five have at least good scores in agility testing, with the short shuttle seemingly more important than 3-cone.

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Cornerbacks:

I separated out corners and safeties because some teams do scout them athletically different and some don’t (Packers). So just trying to be consistent across the board.

The Bengals have drafted four corners in the last six drafts. Davontae Harris, Darius Phillips, Jordan Brown, and Cam Taylor-Britt. This is a smaller number than most teams. Their average score is a 6.96, with three of them having a score of 7.77 or higher.

With height there isn’t a huge difference. Between 5’10 – 6’0. Same thing with weight; 193-205. So it does seem they like their corners to be sturdy. The Bengals also like their corners to have solid arm length, with three of the four having at least 31 1/8″ arms.

Explosion testing for corners does not look to be of any importance to them. They vary from bad to elite. The lowest vert was 31″ and the highest was 39.5″. 40 speed, though, does seem to be of some importance to them. The slowest 40 was a 4.54, while the rest were 4.51 or faster. Agility testing, again like other positions, they want their guys to be at least okay. Three of the four ran a 4.2 or faster short shuttle. Same with 3-cone, with the slowest being a 6.96.

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Safeties:

For the final position in our look at the Cincinnati Bengals RAS breakdown on defense, we come to the safeties. Since 2017 the Bengals have drafted four safeties, with two just coming this past draft. They were Brandon Wilson, Jessie Bates, Daxton Hill, and Tycen Anderson.

All four tested very athletic. The average score for them was 8.59, with the lowest a 7.18. Height wise they were between 5’10” – 6’2″. As for weight, they were between 191-209. So a decent range, but if you remove Anderson they are all cornerback sizes: 5’10-6’1 , 191-200. Arm length doesn’t seem to be of any importance.

With safeties, the broad jump seems to be more important than the vertical. Three of the four had broad jumps of at least 10’1″, but the lowest vert was 33.5″ with the highest being 41″. Like corners, speed seems to be of big importance with the slowest being 4.5, with the other three being 4.4 or faster. Three of the four also scored good-or-better agility scores, with the 3-cone testing seemingly being more important than the short shuttle. Three of the four ran 3-cones of 6.78 or faster.

With the defense done, that concludes our look at the Cincinnati Bengals RAS breakdown. Which team will be next? Stay tuned to find out!

Cincinnati Bengals RAS: Offense

Welcome back to the series — I know it’s been awhile. In case you are not familiar, this series is where I look at the RAS scores and athletic testing of the draft picks from each front office. For this one I am looking at the Cincinnati Bengals and their connection to RAS in regards to the draft. Now I know the Bengals do not have a de-facto GM. But upon research, around 2016 was when Duke Tobin was given more control and is seen as when he became more or less the GM. Although I didn’t feel it necessary to go back to 2016, so I went to 2017.

You can also find my most recent article about RAS and the Patriots. For anyone in the scouting community or who wants their mock drafts to be more accurate these articles will help you identify prospects who may or may not be on a teams draft board. Every team’s draft board varies from one to the other. So let’s get it started with the position the Bengals have had the most success with:

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
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Quarterbacks:

Quarterback is one of the few positions that is more or less the same across the league as far as athletic testing. The Bengals are in line with the rest of the league.

They have drafted three quarterbacks since 2017. Logan Woodside, Ryan Finley, and, of course, Joe Burrow. They are between 6’1″-6’4″ and all at least 213 pounds. We do not have any testing on Burrow, but Finley and Woodside average out to a 6.94 RAS and would be considered slightly above average athletes for their position. Most teams want a guy who can get a first down if needed, but mostly can maneuver around the pocket.

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Running backs:

Since 2017, the Bengals have drafted five running backs. Joe Mixon, Mark Walton, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson, and Chris Evans. It seems there are two types of backs they draft. Bigger backs like Mixon, Anderson, and Evans all are 5’11”-6’0″ and 211-228 pounds. Walton and Williams would be smaller backs, both in the 5’8″-5’9″ range and both just over 200 pounds. The four Cincinnati Bengals have an average RAS score of 7.13.

From their explosion testing, you could say they like their backs to be explosive. All of them have a 9’10” broad jump or higher, and outside of Walton all had a vertical of 33″ or more. 40-yard dash times does not look to be too important to them since the times range from 4.45 to 4.6. It also seems they like their running backs to score at least average in agility drills.

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
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Wide Receivers:

The Bengals have drafted five receivers since 2017. Starting with John Ross, Josh Malone, Auden Tate, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase. They have an average RAS score of 6.47 which doesn’t sound particularly impressive. But if you take out Tate who had a epically low 1.84, you get an average score of 7.63. Tate’s selection seems to be more of an outlier. Looking at their size profiles, it seems the Bengals learned their lesson from Ross. After him every receiver was at least 6’0″ and 200 pounds.

Both the 40-yard dash and broad jump seem to be important to the Bengals. Outside of Tate, two of them jumped at least 11′ and the other two were over 10′. Again, outside of Tate, they all ran a 4.54 or faster, with three running 4.4 or faster. Interestingly, the vertical does not seem to be important to them. At least three of them had verticals of 31″ or lower. Agility scores also do not seem to be something the Bengals hold to. There is no agility testing on Ross, but three of them scored either average or poor times.

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Tight ends:

The Bengals have only drafted two tight ends since 2017, Mason Schreck and Drew Sample. The Cincinnati Bengals draftees have an average RAS score of 8.44, so it seems when they do draft tight ends they like them to be highly athletic. Both are 6’4″ and over 250 pounds.

They do seem to prefer prospects to have at least average explosion testing. Both had verts between 33.5″ and 34.5″. Similar broad jumps as well, 9’7″ and 9’10”. Again, very similar 40 times 4.76 and 4.71. Short shuttle also looks to be important to them. 4.31 and 4.27 were both their times and those are considered solid for a tight end.

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
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Offensive line:

The Bengals have drafted 10 offensive linemen since 2017. One of the interesting things is they have drafted three centers in that time and two of them were not able to workout. They have also drafted four guards, and three tackles. They are JJ Dielman, Billy Price, Roderick Taylor, Jonah Williams, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Adeniji, Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith, Trey Hill, and Cordell Volson.

All the Cincinnati Bengals draftees RAS scores averaged out comes to a 5.97, which is not very impressive. Looking at the guys they have drafted, only two had RAS scores over 6.22. So it can be said that they do not prioritize athleticism in the offensive line.

Centers:

Since only one of the centers worked out we can’t find any common ground in testing. But we can look at size. All three are between 6’3″-6’5″ and 305-319 pounds. With arm length from 32″-33 5/8″. So what we can say from that is they tend to like their centers on the bigger side.

Guards:

As to their guards, they do seem to like them on the taller side. Two of the four are 6’6″, with Taylor being 6’3″ and Carman being 6’5″. The lightest guard was 312, with Taylor being the heaviest at 320 pounds. So it seems as with centers, they like their guards on the bigger side and with long arms with the shortest being 33 7/8″.

They do like their guards to be explosive; all three were good-to-elite in their testing. All three tested average in speed, with each running in the 5.2 range. As far as agility testing, this does not look like an area that they prioritize. Two of them tested poorly and the other, Jordan, was just ok.

Tackles:

The three tackles they drafted are 6’4″-6’5″. Weight wise, they are also all in the same range — between 302-305 pounds. Again, they all tested similar in the bench, between 23-26 reps. With arm length there was some variety, Williams was the shortest with 33 5/8″ and Smith as the longest 35 1/4″. You could surmise they don’t like tackles with short arms.

As to testing, it seems like they aren’t too particular with explosive testing as long as the tackle is average or better. As for speed, the 40 times were all over the place, but the 10 yard dashes were somewhat similar and were all at least solid. The slowest was a 1.83 and the fastest was 1.77, which is very good. Similar to the guards they do not prioritize agility testing with their tackles.

Stay tuned for the next part on the defense!