As we continue our review of the Bengals' draft class, we're now taking a look at which player turns out to be the best long-term prospect.
In determining this, you have to keep in mind someone like Andre Smith, in terms of career arc. His first two years in the NFL were a disaster, but since, he has become a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle. Just because a player doesn't immediately adjust to the NFL, doesn't mean he won't eventually become a great player.
For the Bengals' 2015 draft class, there's a few players who could have similar paths to stardom.
Long-term, Cedric Ogbuehi has the potential to become a very good left tackle in this league. He has the elite athleticism, length and footwork required to be a dominant left tackle. Once he gets healthy, he needs to get stronger and improve his punch technique and timing.
I really disliked the pick at first, but Ogbuehi has the highest ceiling of any player they selected in this draft. Also, I need to shout out Paul Dawson's long term potential. If things don't work out long-term with Vontaze Burfict for whatever reason (knee cartilage/concussion issues), Dawson will immediately step in at the weak side with little drop off.
Cedric Ogbuehi. I think as he gets healthy, he could be a premiere tackle in the league. Chances are good the Bengals can allow him to rehab / learn this season behind two solid tackles. Then they can plug in a very talented guy to become their tackle of the future.
Ogbuehi. I don't know why there were people freaking out when he was selected. How many times did they deny OT was going to be picked in the first? My expectation is that he will be replacing someone on the O-line that gets injured, and shows us what we have. I believe he will be the starting RT in 2016 if not sooner.
Jake Fisher. Jake is a really athletic OL, something that this team doesn't have right now. With the teams in the division all having speed guys off the edge he could be a huge asset in the future. He also is a very balanced OL that finished his blocks and does have a mean streak.
Cedric Ogbuehi / Jake Fisher. The Bengals first two draft picks might not get many chances to play this year (granted the health of the current starting OTs stays intact) but long term, this duo could make a big splash in Cincinnati. Ogbuehi has the potential to be a disruptive force on the Bengals' offensive line and Fisher proved his worth in Oregon when he missed a few games during an injury and watched the team struggle without him. The effect of his absence was pretty well-documented, and hopefully he can acquire the same worth for the Bengals.
I am going to say Fisher. I like Ogbuehi and think he will be a solid tackle as well, but I think when all is said and done, Fisher and his athletic ability will become the best player from this class.
Cedric Ogbuehi has the most upside of any prospect the Bengals drafted this year, and we'll eventually see that come to fruition. Paul Alexander is one of the best when it comes to maximizing the talent of his lineman. One way or another, he'll have Ced reaching his potential, so long as he can stay healthy.