The once afterthought Cincinnati Bengals played their young hearts out on their way to a playoff berth. The Rookie pairing of QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green turned heads from day one. The Cincinnati Bengals hosted a large amount of below the radar youth which will look to capitalize on the age of the Baltimore Ravens and fight hard against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns for Northern Supremacy.
With the Cleveland Browns drafting RB Trent Richardson and QB Brandon Weeden, their primary ball handlers suddenly are exorbitantly upgraded. Not many are high on Weeden, age playing a factor. Weeden is still the more polished, professional, and competitive option.
With G David DeCastro being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team has their replacement for legend Alan Faneca. RB Rashard Mendenhall was inconsistent both on Twitter and on the gridiron. An improved offensive line will do wonders for the Steelers. The loss of WR Hines Ward does not help their edge blocking or their locker room leadership, but with the expectation of WR Mike Wallace returning, the Steelers have a young and talented receiving corps to rely on.
The Baltimore Ravens still have two legends on defense who defy time and the laws of physics each and every play. They locked up their immensely talented RB Ray Rice and have the high-low recipe of deep threat Torrey Smith and the consistent Anquan Boldin to throw to.
So where does this place the Bengals?
The Bengals drafted physical cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to supplant the workload on solid CB Leon Hall. Additionally, Cincinnati intelligently selected WR Mohamed Sanu out of Rutgers who brings a tough game and soft hands to the table. With their lack of production against the play-action and another weapon needed for QB Andy Dalton, the front office addressed two needs to shore up the youth on their team. DE Carlos Dunlap projects once again to be a sack artist for the team. DT Geno Atkins continues to impress on this defensive line and looks to repeat as a Pro Bowler.
However, what might be the biggest improvement was the replacement of RB Cedric Benson with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “The Law Firm” is no Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, but the man is simply reliable. He never fumbles, ever. He is a horse close the goal line as evidenced by his eleven touchdowns last season. He may not run for 100 yards on a regular basis, but can carry a team while everyone else gets on track.
This young ball club still has its best years ahead of them. Adding reliability to the backfield and an additional year of chemistry between both Dalton, Green, and that frightening defensive line, and suddenly there is a third horse in the race for the AFC North crown.