Top-20 Bengals Players Of 2013: No.8 Offensive Tackle Andre Smith

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

We continue the countdown of the top-20 players of 2013 with one of the most polarizing players on the roster.

What a career it has been for big Andre Smith in four short seasons. Coming out of the University of Alabama after his junior year in 2009, the consensus opinion was that Smith was the most talented offensive tackle in a draft that was rich with the position. However, some odd behavior in the pre-draft process caused his stock to drop, but the Bengals still took a chance on at No.6 overall.

Unfortunately, the drama with Smith didn't end in the months preceding the 2009 draft. Two contract holdouts, injuries and an off-field arrest for gun possession have marred some of the good things that Smith has done on the football field in the past two seasons. It was his quality play in the 2012 season that led to that second contract holdout, then a subsequent three-year deal to remain with the club. When we all thought that the drama with Smith was over with his new contract, he failed to show up for OTAs due to "personal reasons".

WHY HE RANKED HERE:

Through all of the ups and downs in his career, Smith still ranked as one of the top right tackles in ProFootballFocus' 2012 scores. He was dominant in the run game, teaming with Kevin Zeitler to create huge holes for backs to run through on the right side. Though he had a couple of really poor performances in pass protection, he was solid in the other games in this area.

Aside from that, Smith re-dedicated himself to conditioning the past two years. Not coincidentally, the two seasons that followed were his two best as a pro. We don't know what's going on with Smith's "personal issues" this offseason, but indications are that he is in relatively decent shape again and if that's the case, we could be looking at another solid year from Big Dre.

WHY HE SHOULDN'T BE RANKED HERE:

Issues, issues, issues. We have talked about the conditioning, injuries and off-field arrest and it leads to questions about maturity. It's a shame that these questions still linger in Smith's fifth pro season. Though we'd like to think that these issues are behind him and the recent ones are things we can shrug off, there is still a disturbing track record. His absence from OTAs after receiving a hefty extension is also concerning.

Though 2011 was a decent year for Smith, this ranking was heavily weighed on his 2012 performance. One decent season and another good one out of four makes us a bit uncomfortable. There is also a bit of future potential considered when making this ranking.

CONCLUSION:

Like so many other Bengals on the roster this year, Smith has a lot to prove in 2013. However, unlike the other Bengals that need to prove something for a new contract, Smith needs to prove that he was worth the three-year, $18 million contract that he signed on the second day of the 2013 draft. He's off to another rough start with that new contract, but if he gets things straightened out, we could see another good year from Smith on the line.

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