When it comes to the positions that the Bengals need to upgrade, the offensive line is no exception -- just ask Carson Palmer. Now that the Bengals are at the NFL Combine, they have a chance to get a good look at some of the offensive lineman that they may want to draft in April.
Now, when it comes to the offensive lineman at the combine, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that there isn't really any top-tier offensive line talent like a Jake Long (drafted by the Dolphins in 2008) or Joe Thomas (drafted by the Browns in 2007). However, the good news is that while there might not be any top-tier offensive lineman, according to Todd McShay and Kevin Weidl, the talent on the offensive line does run deep.
The offensive linemen have not worked out yet, but it's obvious that this is a well-conditioned, mature group that has taken a business approach to its collective trip to Indy. Fewer sloppy bodies showed up at this year's weigh-ins than in recent memory, and so far, the early reports from the first two nights of interviews have been glowing.
McShay and Weidl say that the most impressive offensive lineman, pre-workout, at the Combine so far is USC's tackle Tyron Smith. Smith played his last season at USC weighing 287 pounds but showed up at the Combine weighing in at 307 and coaches and scouts were impressed with his impressively long arms.
It was a great start to the week for Smith, who will have a chance to cash in on a monster combine if he maintains the exceptional athleticism and balance that we've seen on film during Saturday's testing and drills.
They also mentioned the guard trio of Georgia's Clint Boling, Ohio State's Justin Boren and TCU's Marcus Cannon who have all impressed coaches and scouts. Boling impressed Senior Bowl coaches with his performance and has a "solid and well-proportioned frame." Boren has trimmed his weight down to 308 and coaches and scouts are excited to see whether or not the recent weight loss will help his speed and agility when he works out. As for Cannon.... well, Cannon's just huge.
Cannon (6-5, 358) is a mammoth prospect but carried his 358 pounds about as well as physically possible with very little fat. Cannon has restrictions athletically and likely will be forced inside after playing tackle in college, but his impressive frame has him off to a solid start at the combine.
This all comes as good news to the Bengals who need to draft an offensive lineman but also need to fill the holes in their skill positions first. Since there isn't an offensive lineman worth the No. 4 overall pick this season, there won't be any controversy over whether they should draft a guard or tackle over an A.J. Green, Nick Fairley or, dare I say, Cam Newton. Instead they can focus on filling the holes at wide receiver, defensive line, safety and possibly quarterback early and still have enough talent left in the pool of offensive lineman in the middle and late rounds that they find somebody that can possibly make an impact on the team eventually.