The Bengals went through a serious youth movement back in 2011 and have been generally sticking to getting younger and younger at most positions. The offensive line, in particular, is experiencing its own youth movement lately. Not only is center Russell Bodine one of the youngest linemen in the NFL at only 23-years-old, but Kevin Zeitler isn't far off at 25.
Then, there are 2015 draft picks Cedric Ogbuehi (23) and Jake Fisher (22) gearing up to take over for aging veterans like Andre Smith (29) and Andrew Whitworth (34). Clint Boling falls in the middle at 26-years-old.
The Bengals' starting offensive linemen last year averaged 27.7 years of age, on a snap-weighted basis. That's not very old at all, considering how long linemen like Whitworth have shown they're able to keep playing. However, that's still pretty old compared to the rest of the NFL.
Last year, the oldest offensive line in the NFL belonged to the Jets, who clocked in at an average of 29.2 years of age, weighted for snaps taken. Plenty of the best linemen in the NFL will play well into their mid-to-late 30s, but teams still seem to prefer keeping their lines fairly young on average.
Interestingly enough, the Browns and Steelers actually have older offensive lines than the Bengals at 28.2 and 28.3 years, respectively. That is despite both teams having gone through a recent youth movement themselves. And while age can be considered a bad thing, many of the oldest offensive lines are also the league's best offensive lines. The Falcons had the 4th best offensive line, the Browns had the 5th best, the Raiders had the 6th best, the Bengals had the 8th best, the Steelers had the 10th best and Eagles had the 12th best offensive line in 2015, per PFF's rankings.
With Ogbuehi or Fisher likely taking free agent Andre Smith's spot in the lineup this year, the Bengals will see an injection of youth in their ranking without losing a whole lot of experience. Yes, there will be some growing pains with either guy in their second season, but, the experience of both players having a rookie season filled with observation, learning, practicing with the team and getting meaningful in-game snaps will be more of a boost than most teams get when first taking on new offensive linemen.
The one issue with getting younger for the Bengals is the fact that their best offensive lineman, Andrew Whitworth, is also by far their oldest.
Whitworth has been good enough to be named a Pro Bowler twice, but was also tied for the sixth most penalties in the NFL in 2015 (10). If a holding penalty was called on offense, there was a good chance that it was related to Whit being beaten by a younger, faster defensive end.
Boling, on the other hand, had a solid year with only three penalties committed. He never got much credit for all of the work he did, but he was probably the most reliable lineman on the team last year.
That's not to say the Bengals should get rid of Whitworth. He'll be 35 in December and his contract situation will be reevaluated shortly after. However, he's still the most talented offensive lineman on the team. He's a natural guard who has been switched to left tackle over the years, but it might be a good idea to move him back inside. You're not going to out-muscle him, but it's not exactly a shock to see other players beating him with speed.
Ultimately, the Bengals' offensive line is really not as old as it seems when comparing them to other teams in the league. NFL teams simply don't like letting age creep onto their rosters if they can help it (and with age often comes shelling out big money).