For the last two years, the Cincinnati Bengals‘ pass rush has lived and died by Trey Hendrickson’s presence. When he’s on the edge, opposing quarterbacks always have to be weary of the left side of the pocket.
Hendrickson has amassed 25.5 sacks (including postseason action) since joining the Bengals in 2021. The right defensive end’s consistent production has rightfully garnered him back-to-back Pro Bowl honors.
And yet, there’s still a case for him being underrated. While he’s no Myles Garrett or TJ Watt off the edge, Hendrickson is not far behind the best of the best. His case for elite status is a good one according to Good Morning Football analyst and former Super Bowl champion Jason McCourty.
“This guy is so disruptive last year only had eight sacks and people will say ‘Well maybe he had a down year.’ He hit the quarterback 18 times.”
“He’s been a force to be reckoned with in that Lou Anarumo defense,” McCourty said, giving Hendrickson his props. “And he’s been a big reason why Cincinnati’s been able to make a huge jump.
Played in a Super Bowl a year ago, competing last year in the AFC Championship game. So I’m looking forward to him continue to ball out there, and more people need to be talking about Trey Hendrickson on the Cincinnati Bengals.” McCourty presented QB hits to explain why Hendrickson’s production can’t just be boiled down to sacks, but we can go even deeper than that.
The former third-round pick was fifth in pass rushing win percentage (21.2%), sixth in pass rush grade (87.7) and ninth in total pressures (74) last year, per Pro Football Focus.
The sacks weren’t always there, but Hendrickson was still winning his assignments consistently. And that bodes well for the sacks picking back up next year. He had 13.5 and 14 sacks in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
In terms of pure pass rushing ability, there aren’t too many who boast better efficiency than Hendrickson, and the Bengals are trying to capitalize on that this year. The addition of first-round pick Myles Murphy will allow Hendrickson to stay fresh throughout the course of the season, keeping him spry for critical moments in games, and down the stretch when the playoffs are near.
Hendrickson’s health should also benefit from playing fewer snaps on early downs. The 27-year old missed a game due to a broken wrist, and wasn’t 100% when playing through the injury. It’s partly why he ended up without recording a sack during the playoffs.
A return back to double-digit sack totals in 2023 should elevate Hendrickson to the spotlight.