Projecting the Cincinnati Bengals 53-Man Roster Ahead of Cut Down Day

Projecting the Cincinnati Bengals 53-Man Roster Ahead of Cut Down Day

Willie Lutz
2 years ago
5 min read
Bengals quarterback Jake Browning scrambles during preseason finale vs. Los Angeles Rams

Soon, teams around the league are going to need to finalize their first 53-man roster of the season. 

For the Cincinnati Bengals, they’re setting for another run through the AFC playoffs, with the hopes that their Super Bowl trip can be more successful in that effort.

Sure, teams will be shifting their rosters a lot with trades, injury designations and waiver finds over the next calendar week. There will likely be some new names entering Paycor Stadium, as the Bengals have never been afraid to add through the waiver wire. With that note added, here’s where things seem to stand ahead of Tuesday’s cut down deadline: 


Quarterbacks (2): Joe Burrow, Jake Browning

Upset alert!

Obviously, this room is still highlighted by rising superstar Joe Burrow, but it looks like he’s likely to have a new face backing him up in 2022. Throughout camp and in the preseason games, Jake Browning crushed the incumbent backup, Brandon Allen.

Preseason Stats:

Brandon Allen: 3 games, 28-of-38 (73%), 264 yards, 6.9 yards per attempt, 0 touchdowns, 0 INTs, 4 sacks, 92.4 QBR

Jake Browning: 3 games, 42-of-64 (65.6%), 452 yards, 7.1 yards per attempt, 1 touchdown, 0 INTs, 2 sacks, 91.4 QBR

This feels like a coinflip heading into cut-down day with head coach Zac Taylor noncommittal, but if we’re going on performance alone, it’s Browning’s job.

One question before the season: Do the Bengals actually have a backup quarterback good enough to win a game should Joe Burrow miss time?

Halfbacks (3): Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans

One question before the season: Can Mixon or Evans prove that they can be good enough in pass protection to steal third-down snaps from Perine?

Wide Receivers (7): Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Stanley Morgan II, Trent Taylor, Mike Thomas, Kendric Pryor

The top of this room is the best in the league. The next guys? Well, there’s a lot more question marks. 

Chase, Higgins, and Boyd are all highly-regarded talents, so they’ll dominate snaps should they stay healthy. There’s a good shot this room stays with just six, but there’s room for one of Pryor or Kwamie Lassiter II to sneak through the cut. Based on preseason performance, it’s easier to lean toward Pryor.  

One question before the season: Can a true WR4 emerge behind the Bengals’ big three?

Tight Ends (3): Hayden Hurst, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox

This group felt pretty set from the day the Bengals inked a free agent deal with Hayden Hurst. Drew Sample’s carved out a role as the designated running down tight end, while Wilcox steps in and plays just fine in jumbo packages. Not to mention, Wilcox emerged last season as a reliable special teamer (a great way to make a lot of money in this league). So much for Year Two of the Thad Moss experience; it just hasn’t clicked.

One question before the season: Where do the Bengals go with their passing offense if Hayden Hurst misses time?

Offensive Line (10): Jonah Williams, Cordell Volson, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, Hakeem Adeniji, Isaiah Prince, Trey Hill, Jackson Carman

Haven’t we all had enough of talking about the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line? As a sports fan, I can’t remember a more beat-to-death subject. 

In general, there top nine guys on this list seem like locks; they’ve been the clear best performers in camp and in preseason games. There is a question, however, of whether or not Jackson Carman makes this roster. His month of August has been dreadful after his second season of entering camp in line to start at guard. At this point, it seems like the 2021 second-round pick could be due for a change of scenery. 

One question before the season: Who can step up if one of the starters on the interior line goes down?


Defensive Line (10): Trey Hendrickson, BJ Hill, DJ Reader, Sam Hubbard, Joseph Ossai, Cam Sample, Zach Carter, Josh Tupou, Jeff Gunter, Khalid Kareem


If you’re a Bengals fan, you have to love this group. After registering 42 sacks as a group a season ago, they’ve added even more firepower through the draft with young players rising and through their 2021 draft class. With BJ Hill stepping into a starting role, rookie Zach Carter looks the part as a rotational 3T on early downs. Meanwhile, Joseph Ossai’s had a great training camp and looks to be an absolute force after missing all of 2021 with a torn meniscus. 

One question before the season: Can one of the team’s recent draft picks look like a star pass rusher of the future?

Linebackers (5): Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Markus Bailey, Clay Johnston

From the final whistle on Super Bowl Sunday, this group has been pretty much set for the 2022 season. Further, it’s a group that should give defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo a lot of confidence. 

Wilson and Pratt both played great football throughout last year’s playoffs. Davis-Gaither and Bailey bring injury questions, but have looked plenty good when healthy. Meanwhile, Johnston avoided a roster battle with Joe Bachie, who’s still recovering from an ACL tear suffered in Week 15 in Denver. This is a good group with good athleticism and good tackling ability; it’s what every team wants their linebacking core to look like in 2022.

One question before the season: Can one of the young linebackers play well enough to keep the Bengals from re-signing Germaine Pratt this spring?

Cornerbacks (5): Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, Mike Hilton, Jalen Davis, Allan George

Much like a lot of the other spots on this defense, this group doesn’t have much turnover from a year ago. Eli Apple showed up a step better in training camp and decisively outplayed 2022 second-round pick Cam Taylor-Britt for the CB2 job.

Notably, Taylor-Britt suffered a core muscle injury just before the first preseason game, which opens the door for UDFA Allan George to steal a roster spot. Still, this is an area where the Bengals could seek a trade before locking in their 53-man roster. 

One question before the season: When does Cam Taylor-Britt get to return to action?

Safeties (5): Jessie Bates III, Vonn Bell, Dax Hill, Tycen Anderson, Michael Thomas

No real surprises in this group. With Jessie Bates III back on the practice field in Cincinnati and Dax Hill looking strong in camp, it looks like safety could be a position that anchors this defense. Michael Thomas might not make the first version of the roster if the team needs to play games with their injury designations, but he’s looked strong in camp and is one of the game’s hardest-working special teamers. 

One question before the season: do the Bengals get an extension done with Vonn Bell with his deal set to expire this winter?


Kick/Punt Team (3); Evan McPherson, Clark Harris, Drue Chrisman

Entering camp, there was no doubt that Evan McPherson would be the kicker and little doubt that Clark Harris would remain the team’s long snapper. However, it appears longtime punter Kevin Huber has finally been unseated after more than a decade at his position. It looks like Ohio State product Drue Chrisman will take that job and provide an infusion of youth to the special teams room.

One question before the season: Will there be any growing pains for Drue Chrisman as an NFL punter?

Players starting the year with assumed injury designations: Joe Bachie (LB), Brandon Wilson (S), Ben Brown (iOL), Cam Taylor-Britt (CB)

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