Bengals will have three new starters on offensive line heading into OTAs

7:00 AM ET

  • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, and organized team activities and minicamps in full swing, here’s a starting lineup projection for the Cincinnati Bengals:


OFFENSE

QB: Andy Dalton: The Bengals held on to backup AJ McCarron, but there’s no quarterback controversy here. This is Dalton’s team to lead.
RB: Jeremy Hill: Joe Mixon could be pushing Hill for snaps by training camp, but Hill is the starter as they head into OTAs.
WR: A.J. Green: Green sat out the last part of the season with a hamstring injury, but now that he’s had time to recover, he should be fully rested and ready to resume his role as the Bengals’ No. 1 receiver.
LT: Cedric Ogbuehi: The 2015 first-round pick has a lot to prove as he attempts to fill the shoes of former captain Andrew Whitworth.
LG: Clint Boling: Boling is now the longest-tenured Bengals player on the offensive line as he enters his sixth season as a starter.
C: Russell Bodine: Bodine has started every game since 2014. He won’t be going anywhere in 2017.
RG: Andre Smith: Smith returned to the Bengals after a short-lived stint with the Vikings and will likely be playing guard for the first time, taking the place of the departed Kevin Zeitler.
RT: Jake Fisher: The 2015 second-rounder has only been a backup so far. He’ll have to take a big step forward in 2017, but the job is his to lose.
TE: Tyler Eifert: Eifert is still recovering from offseason back surgery, but he’s head and shoulders above the other tight ends on the roster.
WR: Brandon LaFell: The Bengals signed LaFell to a two-year, $9 million contract in the spring. He could lose some catches to the new rookie wideouts, but he’ll still be a big part of the Bengals' three-wideout set, the formation they used the most last season.
WR: Tyler Boyd: With John Ross still recovering from labrum surgery and finishing up school, Boyd will be the main slot receiver for the near future.


DEFENSE

DE: Carlos Dunlap: Dunlap is the team's best pass-rusher and had 21.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
DT: Andrew Billings: A knee injury prevented Billings from taking a snap during his rookie season, but with longtime nose tackle Domata Peko gone, Billings is the logical next man up.
DT: Geno Atkins: As one of the best players on the Bengals' defense, Atkins isn’t giving up his spot anytime soon.
DE: Michael Johnson: Johnson has spent seven seasons at defensive end in Cincinnati. He might see less snaps if the Bengals decide to rotate their rookie pass-rushers into the lineup, but as of now, he’s still the starter.
WLB: Vontaze Burfict: Burfict missed five games last season to injury and suspension, but he'll start OTAs this year without any limitations.
MLB: Kevin Minter: The Bengals signed Minter in the offseason and released veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga. Minter has experience calling the defensive plays and will likely do so in Cincinnati.
LB: Vincent Rey: Rey has been a valuable backup for the Bengals for several years and filled in for Burfict during his suspension. This is a position in flux as they head into OTAs, with Nick Vigil likely in line for more time, but Rey might get the first shot at a starting position.
CB: Adam Jones: Jones enters the season as the presumed starter, but after an offseason arrest and with 2016 first-rounder William Jackson III now healthy, this could be a position to watch in training camp.
SS: Shawn Williams: Williams is entering his fifth season with the Bengals and his second as their starting strong safety.
FS: George Iloka: Iloka had three interceptions last season, tying his career high.
CB: Dre Kirkpatrick: There are a lot of expectations for Kirkpatrick in 2017 after he signed a five-year, $52 million deal in the offseason. The 27-year-old is their cornerback of the future.




SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Jake Elliott: He’ll compete with Randy Bullock, but considering the Bengals invested a fifth-round pick in him, he’s likely to have an advantage going into training camp.
P: Kevin Huber: Huber has been the Bengals’ punter since 2009, and there’s no reason to think that streak ends now.
KR: Alex Erickson: Erickson finished second in the NFL with an average of 27.9 yards per return.
PR: Erickson: Erickson will enter OTAs as the incumbent, but with a roster full of wide receivers, some of them with returning potential, he could have to fight for this job as the Bengals head to training camp.

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