June 17, 2024

Bengals Young Defensive Players are Staged For Breakthrough in 2024 Season

The Cincinnati Bengals defense was a sieve last season that allowed opposing offenses to plow right through it throughout the season.  The team ranked 31st in total yardage defensively last season and weren’t competent against either the run or the pass.

When successful teams have that problem, the positive to the failings of last season is that there are plenty of opportunities for young players to step up and make an impact.  Next season, two young players on the Bengals will have perfect opportunities to do just that.

Bengals Defenders with an Opportunity to Explode onto the Scene in 2024

Bengals Trey Hendrickson

Last season, the only Cincinnati defender who can even feign having a great season was their pass rusher Trey Hendrickson who finished second in the NFL with 17.5 sacks.  That being said, even Hendrickson saw a dramatic dip in his form against the rushing attack as he is usually known as being a sound and disciplined edge defender.  Aside from Hendrickson, the team didn’t have any bright points last season and there will be chances for young players to dethrone incumbent starters and starters to become superstars next season on the defensive side of the ball.

Here are the two players most likely to do it for Cincinnati next season.

Myles Murphy, Defensive End

Myles Murphy

The first candidate for a breakout season in 2024 is the team’s previous first round pick Myles Murphy.  As a defensive end out of Clemson, Murphy was known for having an excellent burst off the edge and a candidate for becoming a above-average pass rusher in the NFL.  Last season, Murphy struggled to see playing time and finished with an generally acceptable Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall rating of 56.2.

The most telling indicator for Murphy however is in the series of games that he was forced to fill in for incumbent defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, Murphy’s score went up to around 70 or where an above average player would be.  In his second season, the team will likely attempt to either partially or fully phase out Hubbard to allow for their fast-developing second year player to really get into a tempo defensively.  Look out for Murphy to build on his 3-sack rookie season and likely hit double digits as a second year player.

Jordan Battle, Safety

Bengals Jordan Battle

Over the past few decades, safety play has been a critical component to the way Cincinnati plays defense and the team knew there would be a learning curve when 2022 starters Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell both left in free agency.  After the two superstar defenders left the team, they thought that signing Rams value option Nick Scott would be a viable replacement.  Unfortunately for the team, Scott ended up being a massive liability in the secondary and whenever a big play happened, he was typically to blame.

LA Rams

After Scott lost the job halfway through last season, third round rookie Jordan Battle entered the starting spot and looked like a Pro Bowler from the get go.  Battle ended up as an outstanding replacement for the teams former box safety Bell as he was one of the best run supporting safeties in the NFL last season.  Battle finished with a superb PFF overall rating of 82.5 which was good enough for 8th in the NFL.  After a season of actually sliding in as the starting safety in training camp and the preseason, there is a possibility that Battle becomes the best safety in the NFL next season.

Opportunities are Abundant in Cincinnati

After those two high profile players pushed the envelope in Cincinnati last season, the team will try to continue the trend of efficient drafts over the past five seasons.  For example, the team has 20 roster spots filled just from the past three NFL drafts.  Particularly in Cincinnati, it had become common for busts and attitude problems to be released before their first contracts even finalized.  Now, Cincinnati has become one of the better scouting departments in the NFL as they attempt to continue their reign as a force in the AFC.

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