Bengals feel return of injured defenders like having extra draft picks

The Bengals Defense looked different after free agency thanks to the team signing five free agents while saying farewell to the likes of cornerback William Jackson III, defensive end Carl Lawson, and defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

Cincinnati bolstered those free agent additions with four defensive additions in the draft. When defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo looks at his unit, he counts a couple of other players as new faces even though they joined the team last year.

Defensive tackle D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes joined the team as free agents, but Reader was limited to five games and Waynes didn’t play at all due to injuries. Anarumo said that he sees them as extra draft picks.

“One hundred percent, yes,” Anarumo said after the draft wrapped up. “D.J. Reader played only a couple hundred snaps for us last year. Trae Waynes didn’t play at all. I look at it that way for sure. That’s two new additions to the team, even though they were both with us here last year.”

The Bengals have talked a lot about providing more support on offense for quarterback Joe Burrow in his second season, but a stronger defense would be a big boost to their chances of rising in the standings as well.