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Bengals Breakout: A Look at the Rookies That Could Have the Biggest Impact This Season

Which first-year players will step up for Cincinnati?

The Bengals added 10 players to their roster in the 2021 NFL Draft. They also signed a solid group of undrafted free agents. 

Several Bengals rookies will have an opportunity to play a significant role on the team this season.

Naturally, Ja'Marr Chase is expected to have a huge year. The fifth overall pick joins his former college quarterback in Joe Burrow. The duo dominated the collegiate ranks in 2019. 

Chase is expected to produce immediately and should help fellow wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Chase fills out an extremely talented receiver group and should be a valuable piece to the Bengals offense this season.

Cincinnati took Jackson Carman in the second round. He'll likely be the starting right guard this year. With how bad the Bengals offensive line was last season, Carman is a key piece in their quest to keep Burrow upright.

Third round pick Joseph Ossai also has a chance to make a big impact. With Carl Lawson in New York, Ossai should get a solid amount of snaps as a rookie, not only on the edge as a pass rusher, but also on running downs.

An overlooked player that will make a big impact is fifth rounder Evan McPherson. It’s expected that the rookie will be the Bengals full time kicker. Last season, kicker Randy Bullock missed five field goals, including a game tying attempt in Week One against the Chargers. The Bengals are hoping McPherson brings stability and more range to the kicker spot.

Cam Sample, Tyler Shelvin, and D’Ante Smith should get some snaps this season as rookies. Sample and Shelvin are expected to be part of the defensive line rotation.

Aside from them, another interesting player that could have a nice impact is running back Chris Evans. With the departure of Gio Bernard, Evans could get some snaps behind Joe Mixon. He likely will have an impact on the passing game out of the backfield and could get some carries as well.

Overall, the Bengals have multiple guys that could make an impact on this team as rookies. With the way their roster is set up, it could clear a path for these young guys to not only earn a spot on the team, but contribute early this season.

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