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Top Right Tackles In 2012 And The Draft

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The top 10 right tackles in the NFL in 2012 were all either selected early in the draft, or they went undrafted.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Andre Smith remains a free agent and he doesn't seem to be close to signing, which means the Bengals will likely go to New York for the draft without Smith on the roster. If that happens, finding a new right tackle will likely be high on the list of priorities for the Bengals.

Replacing Smith, who was rated as the top-ranked right tackle in the league in 2012, may be easier said than done, though, especially with the No. 21 overall pick. This year's draft class is deep and talented, but with several teams looking to select offensive tackles early, the Bengals may have to look past the first round to find Smith's replacement.

That may not be a terrible thing, though.

While Smith was the top-rated tackle in 2012 and while he was a first-round pick, not all of the top-ranked right tackles were first-round picks. Out of the top-10 tackles, three were first round picks, four were second round picks, one was a third round pick and two were, interestingly enough, undrafted free agents.

The top three right tackles in 2012, were, of course, all first round picks. Smith was first with a Pro Football Focus score of 26.9. He also had the highest score of any Bengals offensive lineman. The second-best right tackle was former first-round pick Gosder Cherilus (23.4) and then there was Anthony Davis in third place (22.4), also a first-round pick.

Next come the second round picks split up by one of the undrafted free agents. Sebastian Vollmer, a second-round pick, was the fourth-ranked right tackle in 2012 (21.5). Tyson Clabo was ranked as the fifth-best (21.3). He was an undrafted free agent in 2006. Orlando Franklin, a second-round pick, was ranked sixth (20), Mitchell Schwartz (16.1), also a second round pick, was ranked seventh and Phil Loadholt (15.8), the last second round pick, was ranked eighth.

In ninth place was the only former third-round pick, Eric Winston (13.1) and in 10th place was undrafted free agent Austin Howard, who made his debut in the league in 2010.

It's clear the Bengals wouldn't necessarily need to use the No. 21 overall pick on an offensive tackle to find a suitable replacement for Smith, but at the same time, why would a team want to replace the best with the 10th best?

The best option for the future of the position is likely to re-sign Smith before the draft, which would allow the Bengals to focus on other positions like safety, linebacker, running back and others. If they don't re-sign Smith, though, they are going to have to use one of their picks in the first couple rounds to find a long-term replacement capable of playing at the same level.

Of course, there were two undrafted free agents on the list, so you never really know.