ANALYSIS: An early projection of Bengals’ 53-man roster

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Bengals used their 10 picks in the NFL Draft to fill some important depth roles and create competition in the back end of a few position groups.

Cincinnati prioritized depth at defensive tackle and cornerback, while drafting potential future starters at right tackle and tight end and adding a wide receiver who can potentially make an impact right away. The roster stands at 73 after the draft, excluding the 14 college free agents who reportedly came to terms with Bengals.

Here’s an early projection of how the 53-man roster could shape out now that the draft is complete.


Starter: Joe Burrow

Backup: Jake Browning

Other: Logan Woodside

Burrow and Browning are locks, as the Bengals had the advantage of going into 2024 with a much clearer picture than a year ago when Browning was competing against Trevor Siemian for the backup job after two seasons on Cincinnati’s practice squad. Woodside, a 2018 draft pick of the Bengals who is back after stints with the Titans and Falcons, should be a strong candidate for that practice squad spot.


Starter: Zack Moss

Backups: Chase Brown, Trayveon Williams

Other: Chris Evans

The Bengals could keep four running backs, and they usually do, but Evans’ role diminished even more last year, and there is depth at other positions that might be more valuable to keep. Evans had long been considered a possible third-down running back based on what he did in the passing game in college, but that position was open for the taking last year and he did not grab hold of it. It seems less likely he does now, though not out of the question. Moss and Brown could be a solid 1-2 punch, and Williams can be still be helpful on special teams.


Starters: Jermaine Burton, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins,

Backups: Trenton Irwin, Charlie Jones, Andrei Iosivas

Others: Shedrick Jackson, Kwamie Lassiter II, Kendric Pryor

The six wide receivers are pretty much locks, though Higgins still has to sign his franchise tender. He, Burton and Chase make an exciting trio of starters, and Irwin, Jones and Iosivas are solid backups. Of course, one of the other guys could shine in training camp and earn a seventh spot, but the tight end position and offensive line have players that Cincinnati will have a hard time cutting.


Starter: Mike Gesicki

Backups: Drew Sample, Tanner Hudson, Erick All

Other: Tanner McLachlan

For now, this seems the best projection, but it might be the rare occasion to keep five tight ends, unless All is not ready for training camp — as he expects to be in coming off his 2023 ACL tear. If the Bengals can shift him to the Physically Unable to Perform list, that would enable them to more easily keep all five. It’s also hard to imagine they will want to risk the chance of McLachlan getting claimed on waivers when they felt like he was such a steal in the draft, but if All is healthy, McLachlan might be left out of the mix.


Starters: Orlando Brown Jr., Trent Brown, Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, Cordell Volson

Backups: Devin Cochran, Cody Ford, Matt Lee, Amarius Mims, D’Ante Smith

Others: Jackson Carman, Trey Hill, Nate Gilliam, Jaxson Kirkland

It’s possible the Bengals just keep nine guys, but depth on the offensive line will be important. Trey Hill did not impress in 2023 and Lee seems like a strong candidate to earn the backup center job over him. Smith is probably the guys most on the bubble, though Cochran is coming back from injury that sidelined him last year.


Starters: Trey Hendrickson, B.J. Hill, Sam Hubbard, Sheldon Rankins

Backups: Zach Carter, Kris Jenkins, McKinnley Jackson, Myles Murphy, Joseph Ossai, Cam Sample

Others: Travis Bell, Domenique Davis, Jeff Gunter, Cedric Johnson, Devonnsha Maxwell, Jay Tufele

The Bengals still seem to have faith in Carter, but he didn’t make the big jump they hoped for last year. Tufele could battle for that last spot. The others all seem like locks. Jenkins and Jackson are expected to play big roles in the rotation at defensive tackle, and Murphy, Ossai and Sample give good depth at edge.


Starters: Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson

Backups: Joe Bachie, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Devin Harper

Other: Shaka Heyward

Pratt and Wilson will be playing their fifth season together and remain a key part of the defense after playing an average of 93 percent of the snaps at linebacker last year. Bachie and Davis-Gaither are sure backups, barring injury, and Harper seems the next best option after playing six games last year as a waiver claim addition.


Starters: Jordan Battle, Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hilton, Geno Stone, DJ Turner

Backups: Tycen Anderson, Vonn Bell, Dax Hill, Jalen Davis, Josh Newton

Others: Daijahn Anthony, Allan George, DJ Ivey

Hill could compete with Turner for the other starting cornerback spot opposite of Taylor-Britt. Turner started off strong as a rookie in 2023 but struggled down the stretch, and Hill is making the switch from safety. Also at corner, Ivey could be a PUP candidate coming off December ACL surgery. If he is somehow ready to go, he could bump Davis out of the group. As for the safety spot, Battle seems poised to continue his development as the starter at strong safety with Bell a solid backup if he’s struggling.


Kicker: Evan McPherson

Punter: Brad Robbins

Long snapper: Cal Adomitis

Robbins struggled with consistency as a rookie and is expected to have competition with an undrafted college free agent, but that’s all there is to see in this group.

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