We are more than a quarter of the way through the 2020 season, and what was sure to be an unforgettable season has certainly delivered thus far. After getting their first win in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cincinnati Bengals were hoping to stay in the win column when they faced divisional rival the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. Unfortunately, things didn't go as the Bengals planned, as they lost in a blow out with a final score of 27-3.
Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow finally played like a rookie as he struggled against the blitz-heavy Baltimore defense. Burrow will have better days, and the loss is definitely not all on him. The Bengals' offensive line and defense continue to struggle and even though Burrow has been as good as advertised. It is crucial that the Bengals continue to add talent around him.
Cincinnati was never expected to be competitive this season, but the truth is, outside of the Baltimore game, they have been in a position to win every contest. Continued development for this young team is very important as the season goes on, and if the front office can add quality talent through free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, then this team should be in position to make some noise next season. As we continue to look toward the future, I wanted to spend time highlighting five college players that Bengals fans should keep their eyes on this Saturday.
Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
#1 Clemson at Georgia Tech 12 p.m. ET
Finding offensive line talent to protect Burrow needs to be the No. 1 priority for the Bengals' front office in the offseason. Too often has Burrow been let down by the big fellas upfront, and if he is to ever reach his ceiling as a player, he will need to stay on his feet. Jackson Carman is one of the best offensive tackles in this upcoming draft class, and is fresh off a good game last week versus Miami. Carman is one of the more aggressive run blockers I have seen this year, and his ability to anchor in pass pro will be a welcome sight for Burrow and the rest of this offense.
Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
Kentucky at #18 Tennessee 12 p.m. ET
Apologies if I sound like a broken record, but the Bengals must do everything in their power to improve their offensive line. The Bengals have given up 22 sacks so far this season, which is the most in the NFL. Adding a player like Tennessee’s Trey Smith will go a long way in making sure Burrow doesn’t get hit as much in 2021. Although he struggled a bit last week versus Georgia, I still am a big fan of Smith as a prospect. Smith is an absolute mauler at the point of attack and is extremely firm in pass protection. He would be a massive upgrade in the interior of this offensive line.
Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
#3 Georgia at #2 Alabama 8 p.m. ET
The Bengals normally never make big free agent signings, but this past offseason the team made a couple splash additions with the biggest—both figuratively and literally—being nose tackle D.J. Reader. Reader was supposed to come in and be the anchor of the defensive line, and also allow fellow star defensive tackle Geno Atkins to have more one-on-one opportunities, Unfortunately for both the Bengals and for Reader, his season was cut short in Week 5 after Reader suffered a season-ending quad injury. Georgia’s Jordan Davis plays a similar game to Reader as both are outstanding run defenders who can also provide pass rush with strength and power. Davis would be another nice addition to an already talented defensive front.
Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
#5 North Carolina at Florida State 7:30 p.m. ET
The wide receiver position for the Bengals has long been one of the team’s greatest strengths, but with it looking more and more likely that 2020 will be A.J. Green’s last season with the team, it makes sense to continue to bring in young, talented pass-catchers. North Carolina’s Dazz Newsome is one of the most exciting players in all of college football. Newsome is electric with the ball in his hands and can be a weapon from the slot for Burrow. Newsome had his best game of the season last week versus Virginia Tech, and looks to continue his success against conference rival Florida State.
Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
#3 Georgia at #2 Alabama 8 p.m. ET
Outside of the offensive line, the cornerback position may be the worst position group on the team. The Bengals tried to address their corner room in free agency after signing Trae Waynes to a massive contract, but just like Reader, Waynes will have to watch this season from the sidelines. Waynes suffered a pectoral injury in camp and is expected to miss most if not all of the season. Starters William Jackson, who is playing on an expiring contract, and Darius Phillips have both struggled this season. Tyson Campbell is one the best corner prospects in the country and offers outstanding physical tools to project as a lockdown cover man. He has a tough matchup this week as he is set to defend a pair for TDN top five receivers in Jaylan Waddle and Devonta Smith. NFL decision-makers will pay very close attention to how Campbell handles this tough assignment.