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D.J. Reader-led Bengals defensive line ranks poorly despite rebuild

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Not everyone is a fan of what the Cincinnati Bengals did with the defensive line this offseason.

Despite paying up big for former New Orleans Saints pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson, the Bengals slot 25th in new leaguewide defensive line rankings.

The writeup, from Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus:

“It’s not often that a team signs a defensive end to a four-year, $60 million contract in the offseason and gets worse at the position. We saw it this offseason in Cincinnati. Trey Hendrickson will likely be a downgrade from Carl Lawson, considering what he accomplished as a pass rusher last season. D.J. Reader‘s return should give Cincinnati a major boost on the interior, though. He recorded a career-high 85.4 PFF grade back in 2019 with Houston before injuries cut his 2020 Cincinnati debut short after just five games.”

It’s not an unfair assessment either after steady production from Carl Lawson. By comparison, Hendrickson is a much bigger unknown after only just breaking out last year.

Still, Hendrickson has said the Bengals plan to use him in a ton of different ways and he’ll get to tandem with names like rookie Joseph Ossai to interesting results.

With names inside like D.J. Reader and Tyler Shelvin, the interior at least seems guaranteed to be an upgrade. Understandably, there’s still a to be decided tag on the edge rushers.

If it all works out as the Bengals envision it though, they should climb rankings like this in a hurry.

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