We're taking a moment to examine each position on the Cincinnati Bengals roster and forecasting possible outcomes for free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft.
Signed In 2013: Trevor Robinson, Kyle Cook, Clint Boling, Kevin Boling, Travelle Wharton, Andrew Whitworth, Anthony Collins, Dan Knapp
Free Agents: Andre Smith, Dennis Roland
There are two feelings right now. The Cincinnati Bengals employed a decent offensive line with the personnel to establish dominance with vague images of Cincinnati's group in 2005. Yet fingertips led to lengthy measurements and somewhere along the way, individual praise gave way to criticism as a whole. According to Football Outsider's Adjusted Sack Rate, the Bengals pass blocking ranked No. 28 with an 8.3 percent ASR, which significantly impacted Andy Dalton and his dreadful 47.3 passer rating when under pressure (which is defined as, "holy s***, I'm about to get obliterated.").
Approaching from an individual perspective, you're forced to think, they're not that bad. Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling finished the season ranked No. 12 and No. 23 respectively according to Pro Football Focus' grading scale; yet were both ranked inside the top-ten midway through the season. Characteristically, Andrew Whitworth ranked as the league's top pass protector at offensive tackle, though he struggled to really pile-drive defenders during the run.
Andre Smith graded as the league's fourth-best offensive tackle in the league overall, but also led Cincinnati's offensive line in sacks allowed (7) and quarterback pressures (25). Center was a bit of a disaster with Jeff Faine arguing for unemployment and Kyle Cook struggling upon his return from a preseason high ankle sprain. Trevor Robinson offset their performances somewhat with an approving nod and a "that's not too bad, son."
In a very real sense you want to say that the offensive line wasn't bad individually but then as a whole, it's obvious they played poorly, especially towards the end of the season.
Free Agency/NFL Draft: Everything about free agency and the NFL draft revolves around Andre Smith. Will he be signed to a long-term deal or will he be franchised? How willing are the Bengals to look for the future at the position, expecting a difficult negotiation with Smith while also acknowledging that two years of a troubled knee and age is catching up with Andrew Whitworth? Hesitation and pause could mean everything but overthinking the position's future could lead to nothing.
We're unwilling to conjecture whether Cincinnati uses one of their first four picks on an offensive tackle during the NFL draft, but we're comfortable enough to claim that they won't touch guard and center this offseason.