Ah, the offensive line. I love those beasties. They are the pure definition of football. Quarterbacks? Running backs? Wide receivers? Sure, they have all the glitz, the glamour and the joy of being more recognized as the popular players in the game. But without the offensive line, there is not glitz, no glamour, no television shows or Twitter accounts worth following.
According to Football Outsiders -- those wacky guys with obsessive statistical analysis -- the Bengals overall adjusted line yards ranked 24th in the NFL (basically advanced statistics regarding the team's rushing offense). However, when it came to Power Success, "percentage of runs on third and fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or a touchdown" (which also includes runs on first-and-goal and second-and-goal from the two-yard line), the Bengals were the best, converting 79%. Furthermore, the team's adjusted sack rate "which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent", ranked 10th in the NFL.
|Stats provided by Pro Football Focus|
In reality, the Bengals keep stacking themselves with quality offensive line talent, even using two of their 2010 NFL draft picks on offensive linemen. Unlike last year, which was a gross experimentation on how to make the line to resemble quality, the Bengals are in a far superior position, affording themselves position battles are several spots on the line.
One of the more position battles of interest will start at right tackle; nothing is certain. Andre Smith is still healing his broken foot, a process that was finished after offseason surgery this year, Paul Alexander says that Dennis Roland "is going to be there at the start." However, Alexander, rightly so, doesn't want to announce any sort of depth chart yet, considering all of the battles that will take place on the offensive line from now until the start of the season. But if you ask me (and you didn't), it's Smith's to lose.