ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 18: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals hands there ball off to Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 18, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Bengals beat the Rams 20-13. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
We're taking a brief look at every position this weekend, breaking down the roster at this point in the offseason.
Position Report: Center
Roster (1): Kyle Cook
Signing a five-year deal just before the start of the 2011 regular season largely projected Cook as the team's long-term center. Though an upgrade from his predecessor Eric Ghiaciuc, Cook suffered from the same run-oriented issues that his buddies on the offensive did last year -- worth exploring if the issue wasn't so much the offensive line, rather the rushing schemes integrated by Jay Gruden's offense.
Unfortunately his pass blocking was noticeably worse, allowing 15 quarterback pressures, four hits on the quarterback and two quarterback sacks. However there is a caution here. A center is completely dependent with the offensive guards flanking his sides, and if guys like Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn misread an assignment, a blitzing linebacker shooting through the A-gap could be blamed on Cook, who might read strong-side first (tight end on the right) whereas, say Nate Livings, steps weakside (away from the tight end).
Draft Projection: Cincinnati's own coaching staff appears to be interested with Wisconsin center, Peter Konz. Along with a confirmed scheduled visit (according to PFT), the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff also attended Konz's personal workout in Madison, Wisconsin.
Nothing may come of it. Or maybe the Bengals are looking to upgrade the position; a slight deviation if true, considering the five-year contract signed by Cook last year. But then again if the Bengals are looking to upgrade positions, threatening the security of starters, then it's a deviation within itself. Constantly looking to upgrade? Who would have thought.
Position Report: Guard
Roster (4): Travelle Wharton, Clint Boling, Otis Hudson, Jacob Bell
With Nate Livings leaving for the Dallas Cowboys, Mike McGlynn signing with the Indianapolis Colts and Bobbie Williams in limbo on the free agent market, the Bengals lost a combined 29 starts at the offensive guard position from last year alone. In their place remains Clint Boling (five games, three starts) and Otis Hudson (no NFL experience).
Cincinnati did sign free agent Travelle Wharton, who may help the team's overall run blocking production -- placed alongside a recovering Andrew Whitworth, this might be the most underscored boom for the team's rushing offense for next season. They also signed Jacob Bell, who figures to be a backup.
Draft Projection: If the Bengals finally draft a guard in the first round, I fear that Cincinnati could turn into Lexington after their National Championship win. It will be the first time that this franchise has ever selected a guard in the first round and it's certainly a perceive need.
It's entirely possible that Cincinnati disregards the position entirely during the first-round (remember the part where the Bengals have never drafted a first round guard in franchise history). Paul Alexander, the Bengals offensive line coach, praised Otis Hudson's overall improvement before injury last year and Clint Boling was only a rookie that could improve enough to become a starter.
Position Report: Offensive Tackle
Roster (4): Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Anthony Collins, Matt O'Donnell
Offensive tackle right now is one position that's not really a worry. Despite Andrew Whitworth admitting to tendinitis and muscle loss, he's still viewed as one of the top left tackles in the game. Andre Smith put together his best season, by far and Anthony Collins is one of the best backup offensive tackles in football.
After this year the team will have to worry about the overall state of the position, but for right now, it's not a concern. There are indications that Dennis Roland could return also.
Draft Projection: Entirely possible that the Bengals could use a late-round draft pick to establish competition for Matt O'Donnell, who spent the entire season last year on Cincinnati's practice squad. There's also another scenario to consider, grabbing a mid-to-late-round steal in the hope of developing a rookie with Andre Smith entering the final year of his rookie contract. Again, it's possible. Likely? Probably not.