Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the Cincinnati Bengals in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
OLB Nick Vigil
All told, the Cincinnati Bengals were not their usually staunch defensive selves this past season. Coordinator Paul Guenther’s unit was a mediocre 17th in the league in total yards allowed per game. What was really disappointing was the team’s 21st ranking in the league when it came to stopping the run.
Marvin Lewis’ team saw its share of changes on this unit during the offseason. Defensive tackle Domata Peko signed with the Denver Broncos. Linebacker Rey Maualuga was cut loose by the organization. Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby also left and rejoined the Arizona Cardinals – his original employer. The Bengals added middle linebacker Kevin Minter (Cardinals) via free agency.
It’s a unit that still has fierce competitor Vontaze Burfict at one outside spot. But could second-year pro Nick Vigil emerge as a starter this fall on the opposite side? This offseason, the 2016 third-round pick from Utah State has certainly made an impression.
“He looks a lot better,” said Guenther recently to Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News. “I always say in between your first and second year you’ve got to make the biggest jump. He knows where to be, what the schedule’s going to be like. He’s not a rookie anymore. So he’s on top of things that way.”
The Cincinnati Bengals could certainly use a rangy player when it comes to Guenther’s unit. Vigil certainly looks like he could fit that role. While he finished with only 14 tackles on defense, he added another seven stops on special teams. His emergence the last few months is extremely good news for a unit that slipped a few notches in 2016 and looks to rebound quickly.