Bengals Banter: Defending Kyle Cook At No. 16

May 22, 2012; Cincinnati, OH USA; Cincinnati Bengals center Kyle Cook (64) talks with guard Travelle Wharton (70) during organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-US PRESSWIRE

+ Continuing our top-20 Bengals players in 2012, we named Kyle Cook at No. 16, which we predicted would generate discussion of shock! Now let's face facts. Cook didn't have a great year last year, but no one on the offensive line shined, especially when running the football. Despite the acknowledgement of injury, Andrew Whitworth was the second-worst offensive linemen in the running game, Andre Smith wasn't that far behind. But we're more than willing to give them a break, not Kyle Cook. Not him.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bobbie Williams was the only lineman to score a positive rush blocking grade on the 2011 roster. The only lineman on the current roster that didn't score a negative run blocking score? Kyle Cook. The same Kyle Cook that allowed as many quarterback sacks as Chris Myers and less quarterback sacks than Nick Mangold, Maurkice Pouncey, Ryan Kalil and Scott Wells, all of whom were elected into the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl.

And to address the people that argue that they always saw Kyle Cook in the backfield, consider that Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn allowed 27 hurries on the quarterback last year. And as a center without an assignment or blitzer, you support the guards and the Bengals had one of the worst sets of guards last year for Cook to cover.

Grading interior offensive linemen can be difficult. Unlike offensive tackles, guards and centers tend to work more in unison, keeping tabs on 3-4 players that could be doing a variety of stunts. And if one fails, then all appear to fail when watching the game on live television (or a choppy internet feed).

+ ESPN ranked Carlos Dunlap No. 14 in their top-25 players in the AFC North.

+ We examined a couple of reasons why negotiations between the Bengals and Mike Zimmer were slow.

+ SB Nation ranked the Cincinnati Bengals as the No. 3 offensive line heading into 2012. We'll take it. Might be a bit generous (too many unknowns), but we'll take it.

+ ESPN also ranked the Cincinnati Bengals as the No. 3 team in the NFL with players 25 years old or younger.

+ Bengals cornerback Terence Newman generated enough of an impression during offseason work outs that he has a realistic shot at making the club.

+ We completed our training camp preview series with special teams.

+ Former Bengals running back Cedric Benson says he's getting some interest from the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders, a team known to have shown interest in Benson before.

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