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

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:


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.


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.


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.