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Would you rather: Cedric Ogbuehi or Andre Smith

Taking a look back at whether or not replacing Smith with Ogbuehi was the right move.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into a Week 9 bye, it’s been a rough season for the Bengals at the right tackle position. Despite the Bengals regularly seeing strong performances out of Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling, the Bengals’ offensive line has given up the second most sacks (25) of any unit in the NFL this season. From time to time, you can blame some of the sacks on inconsistent performances from one of the three aforementioned members of the line, as well as center Russell Bodine, who has played pretty well this year. But, the offensive lineman who has consistently performed poorly and below expectations this season has been right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.

Given the fact that Ogbuehi’s predecessor, Andre Smith, was occasionally productive at the position, there has been speculation among Bengals fans that the team should have tried to retain Smith this offseason instead of handing the starting job to their young prospect out of Texas A&M so quickly. Smith was certainly no fan favorite, but would this have actually made things better for the Bengals?

The argument for retaining Smith

Andre Smith was much more familiar with the other members of the Bengals’ starting offensive line. Prior to this season, the Bengals saw no changes to the line since Russell Bodine arrived in 2014. Ogbuehi was essentially redshirted in his rookie season and missed a significant portion of the offseason due to injury. Sure, Smith had some significant downsides in terms of work ethic and consistency during his time with the Bengals, but there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with the Bengals’ offensive line while he was starting, so there was no need to make a drastic change.

In 2016, Ogbuehi has been an absolute liability at the right tackle position. On top of allowing more pressures than the rest of the line combined, he has consistently looked lost. He has generally been good at not committing costly penalties, unlike Smith, but he did commit a devastating hold on Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich in the Bengals’ Week 6 loss to the Patriots, which set up an easy safety for Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower on the following play.

Smith obviously was never perfect during his time in Cincinnati. But, if you look at the tape, he was much better than Ogbuehi has proven to be through eight starts at the position. It’s hard to not think that the Bengals’ offensive line could have been as good as it was last year if the team had kept Smith around rather than forcing Ogbuehi to start before he was ready.

The argument for sticking with Ogbuehi

If you paid any attention to Andre Smith’s performance in Minnesota through the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL season, you would know that Smith did not play much better in Minnesota than Ogbuehi has in Cincinnati.

That could have to do with the fact that Smith was in a completely new environment and will need some time to adjust to his new system. But, given the fact that Ogbuehi missed most of his rookie campaign due to injury and much of this offseason with a different injury, you could make the same argument for him. It’s hard to say exactly how Smith would have developed to this point in Minnesota because he has been on Injured Reserve with an arm injury since Week 5.

The fact of the matter is Andre Smith’s history of showing up to camp overweight, holding out for more money, and generally not carrying himself like a professional in many aspects was one of the few consistent parts of his tenure with the Bengals. With a very talented, albeit very raw Ogbuehi being available to take over at the position and grow over time this year, there is absolutely no reason to suggest the Bengals would have been better off keeping around a 29-year old proven headache like Smith.


Ogbuehi might not look ready now, but over time he could grow into the kind of player the Bengals can depend upon. The team spent a first round pick on him after all, so they needed to give him a chance to play, which wouldn’t have necessarily happened with Smith around.

If Ogbuehi doesn’t develop as expected, the Bengals will need to move on to a plan B, though, that person could already be on the roster as the player the Bengals drafted next right after Ogbuehi is Jake Fisher, and he too could play right tackle.

What do you think, Bengals fans? Knowing what we know now, who would you have preferred the Bengals chose as their starting right tackle this offseason? Let us know in the comments below.