By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
It has been seemingly light years since the Bengals had a formidable defensive line. In the early part of last decade, Geno Atkins came on the scene. He will go down as possibly the best defensive lineman the Bengals ever had. Since Atkins, other drafts Cincinnati had selected simply didn’t work out. If one thing doesn’t work, buy your way to the top. That’s exactly what Cincinnati did.
Larry Ogunjobi is not your typical run of the mill defensive lineman. Ogunjobi was born to parents who emigrated from Nigeria. Growing up in Carolina, the Bengal defensive lineman attended Ragsdale High School in North Carolina before attending Charlotte. Charlotte isn’t exactly an NCAA powerhouse. It didn’t have to be, for the new Bengal stud to get noticed. Coming out of college, Ogunjobi was ranked as the 15th best defensive lineman. He was projected as 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. It was the Cleveland Browns who came calling on draft day. Cleveland selected the Charlotte standout in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft. Ogunjobi would have four solid seasons in Cleveland before he would get to test the waters of free agency.
It was in March of this year the Bengals made a smart decision. Cincy signed Ogunjobi to a 1-year contract. Ogunjobi, along with fellow interior defensive lineman D.J Reader, have formed one of the most solid interior defensive line duos in the NFL. After a quarter of a season, the former Cleveland Brown is second on the team with a total of 16 tackles. He has nine solos and one sack. The way Ogunjobi has started his Bengal career off it would be hard to imagine the Bengals not making a run at solidifying Ogunjobi to a long term contact.
The team is off to its best start in years with a 3-1 record. This past week Ogunjobi and the Bengals defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in comeback fashion for their second straight nationally televised win. Many felt it would be the offensive turning all the heads, but Ogunjobi and his fellow defenders have made it known Cincinnati’s defense will no longer be looked at as a joke.
Cincinnati will next face off against one of the biggest challenges of the year in Green Bay. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP. Rodgers won’t be able to hurt the Bengals if Ogunjobi and the rest of the defense are putting pressure on the future hall of famer.
Cincinnati will try to take the next step in what will be a rough schedule. With solid acquisitions such as Ogunjobi doing what they were brought in to do, the next step for maintaining the top spot in the division will be doable.