The Cincinnati Bengals have typically had one of the NFL's better offensive lines under Marvin Lewis' watch.
The old-school Lewis knows how critical winning in the trenches is. That's something his old Ravens defenses did on a regular basis, so Lewis has kept his o-line strong enough to handle any NFL defense they face. You won't catch his lines getting mauled like the Ravens units did many times while he was on their staff, and his Bengals are usually the ones doing the mauling.
What's made his run of successful offensive lines even more impressive is that's been mainly with guys drafted after Round 1. Eric Steinbach (Round 2), Andrew Whitworth (Round 2), Stacy Andrews (Round 3), Anthony Collins (Round 4), Clint Boling (Round 4) and Kyle Cook (undrafted) all have had successful careers in Bengals stripes, and Christian Westerman may be the next in line to do so.
Westerman, who was selected with the 161st pick in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, was a stud lineman for the Arizona State Sun Devils during his collegiate career. He started 25 games over the past two seasons for ASU and was a second-team All Pac-12 player as a senior in 2015.
Though he fell into Day 3 before hearing his name called, Westerman has the potential to become a quality NFL starter.
Position: Offensive Guard
Weight: 298 pounds
College Arizona State
NFL Combine results: 40-yard dash: 5.17 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.71 seconds; Bench Reps: 34; Broad Jump: 98"; 3-cone drill: 7.69 seconds
If you go off many of Westerman's pre-draft ranking, his stock should be good coming into training camp.
CBS Sports had Westerman ranked as their 61st-best prospect, while Sports Illustrated had him ranked 55th. NFL.com had Westerman ranked as the 59th-best prospect, the same ranking Yahoo Sports produced.
Coldomaha.com rounded up more than 40 draft boards and combined them to showcase how players were ranked overall. That board ranked Westerman as the 68th-best prospect, which shows just how good of a pick he was for the Bengals at 161st overall.
But Westerman won't play much as a rookie with Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler being full-time starting guards. However, it's possible Westerman plays center, or at least could be a backup at the position. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compared Westerman to Alex Mack in his draft evaluation. As you may recall, Mack became a Pro Bowl center for the Browns before signing a big deal with the Falcons this offseason.
And it's no secret that starting center Russell Bodine has been a weakness on this offense thus far. Depending how the Bengals use Westerman as a rookie could determine whether Bodine lasts much longer as a starter, not to mention how much Westerman sees the field as a rookie.
Chances of Making the Roster
Helping Westerman is the fact that fifth-round picks typically make the 53-man roster in their rookie season. C.J. Uzomah did so last year while showing virtually nothing in training camp or the preseason to suggest he should. You have to perform pretty badly to be waived as a fifth-round rookie.
So unless Westerman is so bad that the Bengals feel he has no NFL future, he should make the final roster this year. He may even make is as a backup guard and center, which could spell doom for someone like T.J. Johnson or Trey Hopkins.
You have to figure Bodine, Zeitler, Boling, Whitworth, Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi are locks, while Eric Winston is close to being a lock. Westerman probably earns one of those final spots, but he needs to have a decent camp and preseason to make himself a lock for the roster.