Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Preview: Offensive Guards

May 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals second first round draft pick guard Kevin Zeitler (68) works out during mini camp at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Offensive tackles. Check. Offensive Centers. Check. Now let's turn our orange-colored gaze on the team's very inexperienced offensive guards. Here's a number for you. If you exclude Travelle Wharton, the total number of career snaps taken by this team's roster of guards is 172. All of them by Clint Boling (171 of them during the first four games last season). Four of the team's six guards haven't take part of an offensive snap in the NFL, including the team's 2012 No. 27 overall selection, Kevin Zeitler. Figure that Wharton starts at left guard with Zeitler on the right. Backing up both players will be Boling and Otis Hudson with an unrealistic (though not impossible) chance for Matt Murphy and Trevor Robinson.

Player Age Season Acquired School
Travelle Wharton 31 9th Free Agent (2012) South Carolina
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
-1.8 -7.9 2.9 3 / 3 / 30 $825,000

One looks at Wharton's PFF pass score of -7.9 and a may instigate a mindless drool following a violent disapproving shake of the cerebellum. However -5.8 of that score was the result of two performances against the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. Regardless it's hard to ignore the 30 quarterback hurries he allowed last season. But then it might not be entirely his fault, protecting a quarterback like Cam Newton, who may break the pocket's integrity by shifting around behind the line of scrimmage, tends to cause problems with most offensive linemen.

Based on historical data, Wharton has appeared far stronger as a pass blocker than a run blocker, promoting an aberration in Wharton's season, shifting the hypothesis at the unorthodoxy of Newton's presence. However Wharton has shown to be a more than capable run blocker, much like Bobbie Williams. Wharton, projected as the team's starting left guard, signed a three-year deal worth $10 million following Nate Livings' departure for Dallas. Though his base salary is only $825,000 in 2012, he'll receive upwards to $4 million during his first season (signing bonus, roster bonus, etc.)

Player Age Season Acquired School
Kevin Zeitler 22 R '12 Draft (1st) Wisconsin
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
N/A N/A N/A N/A $390,000

Cincinnati's second first-round selection during the 2012 NFL draft, Kevin Zeitler isn't expected to compete for a starting spot. It's his already. And he'd have to do something really traumatic to lose it with the backups sitting behind Zeitler right now. With above-average instincts and football I.Q., Zeitler showed a dominance as a run blocker at Wisconsin while being capable enough to prevent a quarterback sack during his final three seasons in college.

Player Age Season Acquired School
Clint Boling 23 2nd

'11 Draft (4th)

Georgia
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
-6.9 -1.8 -3.9 0 / 0 / 5 $555,000

When Bobbie Williams was suspended for the first four games last season, it was Clint Boling who replaced him. At least for a little while. Struggling in the running game while allowing pressure on the quarterback through his first three games, Boling was eventually pulled and replaced by Mike McGlynn.

Williams returned for a brief stint before breaking his ankle against the Houston Texans, again replaced by McGlynn for the team's final stretch run. In fact Boling only took part in one offensive snap during the team's final 12 games. Still he's in development and could factor as a backup this season.

Player Age Season Acquired School
Otis Hudson 25 2nd '10 Draft (5th) Eastern Illinois
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
N/A N/A N/A N/A $465,000

A sort of wild card in the competition for backup guards. The team could certainly define Hudson as a backup right guard, and leave him at that, putting Boling on the left. Or vice versa, if one were to reference body types only. Hudson earned endless praise from offensive line coach Paul Alexander last year during training camp before a knee injury slowed his development. He was eventually waived and signed back onto the team's practice squad before his promotion following Williams' season-ending injury.

Returning with a clean bill of health, we expect Hudson to make noise as a backup guard and, save for an injury, earning a spot on the 53-man roster.

Player Age Season Acquired School
Matt Murphy 22 1st Free Agent (2012) Nevada-Las Vegas
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
N/A N/A N/A N/A $825,000

Murphy signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent after the NFL lockout was lifted last year. He was eventually waived by the Falcons during final cuts, finding a home for the entire 2011 season on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. The Bengals claimed him off waivers on May 21 this offseason.

Player Age Season Acquired School
Trevor Robinson 22 R UDFA ('12) Notre Dame
'11 PFF Overall '11 PFF Pass '11 PFF Rush '11 QB Sacks / Hits / Hurries '12 Salary*
N/A N/A N/A N/A $390,000 (?)

Robinson, a four-year starter, played 48 games for the Fighting Irish. He signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2012 NFL draft and could put some work in as a center.

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