After the 2010 NFL Draft: Offensive Line Largely Unaffected By Draft; Depth Will Eventually Improve

Now that you've had time to digest the team's 2010 Draft Class, we wanted to take the time and reset the team's roster, predicting what this means with the team's roster and how the Bengals will look going into the regular season. We had to split this up into multiple parts for the sheer volume of content. In this post, we examine the offensive line.

Most of you who have followed Cincy Jungle for some time know that my favorite position in football is the offensive line. These unsung heroes are literally the pulse of any offensive team. Without them, you have less than two-yard carry averages and a bruised quarterback with frustrated wide receivers because they're not getting the football. Think of it this way. With a great offensive line, you can have mediocre skill players and still produce. With mediocre offensive linemen, it won't matter who your skill players are. They won't produce.

With the signing of Bobbie Williams over the offseason, the Bengals will return all of the 2009 starters with one minor change in the starting lineup. Said Marvin Lewis during his post draft press conference:

"Obviously, our number one goal this offseason has been to give Carson (Palmer) more weapons and threats, and put people in place to help enhance our passing game and get us back to where we were. Another part of that will be the maturity and improvement of the offensive line by having Andre Smith in there from the start. That will be helpful."

That being said, the Bengals offensive line has 13 players heading into training camp; last year, the team had a roster of ten offensive linemen during kickoff weekend. Let's go through each position on the offensive line and project the roster.

CENTER - Kyle Cook started all of 2009 as the team's starting center on the offensive line. Compared to the seasons between 2006 and 2008 when Eric Ghiaciuc was the team's starting center, Kyle Cook has helped stabilize the pass while dominating the run. We have no reason to believe that center will be manned by anyone other than Cook. Jonathan Luigs played in eight games in 2009, all on special teams save for mop up duty against the Chicago Bears.

The good news for Santucci is that since there's a lot of uncertainty at guard (see below), allowing him to make the squad simply based on his versatility.

GUARD - Bobbie Williams will start at right guard. Nate Livings started nine games at left guard, specifically the final eight regular season games in 2009 and the team's Wild Card game against the New York Jets. Mathis will compete for the starting left guard spot. Beyond that, there's a lot of uncertainty.

Otis Hudson, a pick that I'm liking since he'll be developed by a great offensive line coach in Paul Alexander, likely won't be ready by the season and if we're to guess here, he's a prime candidate for the practice squad. It's unknown how Jason Shirley's torn achilles will affect his season. Some project it to be a season-ending injury while others are projecting an October return. If it's the latter, Shirley could go on the PUP (Players Unable to Perform) list and return after the sixth week. Essentially, the backup guard is certain to be the loser between a competition of Livings and Mathis. We're not exactly sure about Stephens at this point. Therefore, this is why Dan Santucci could make the squad.

  • Bobbie Williams
  • Nate Livings
  • Evan Mathis
  • Otis Hudson
  • Reggie Stephens
  • Jason Shirley

TACKLE - Probably our strongest position, all four offensive tackles were credited with starts in 2009. Marvin Lewis already declared that Smith is the early leader to start at right tackle and there's no known plans to have anyone man left tackle other than Andrew Whitworth. Dennis Roland settled comfortably as the team's sixth offensive lineman in their largely successful six-man formations. Collins will be a great backup tackle to have.

Aside from the uncertainty at backup guard, the Bengals offensive line is very solid and with Cook, Livings and Mathis working to become better pass blockers, this offensive line, which is the reason why the team had a successful rushing offense, will only make this offense that much more successful.

Projected roster of offensive linemen (using last year's 10 players as a baseline) includes Dan Santucci for now because of the uncertainty at backup guard and he's likely the most ready. This will also depend on how quick Otis Hudson picks up the playbook and adapts to the right guard position.

  • Andrew Whitworth
  • Nate Livings
  • Kyle Cook
  • Bobbie Williams
  • Andre Smith
  • Evan Mathis
  • Jonathan Luigs
  • Anthony Collins
  • Dennis Roland
  • Dan Santucci
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