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Bengals’ Whitworth explains issues faced by Ogbuehi, Fisher

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Whitworth is as experienced as it gets when it comes to NFL linemen and he believes he knows the root of the issues Ogbuehi and Fisher have encountered.

NFL Draft Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bengals’ first and second round draft picks from the 2015 NFL Draft have yet to prove their worth in Cincinnati. In fact, both were arguably more of a hindrance than aid in the Bengals’ 2016 season.

Cedric Ogbuehi, the Bengals’ first round pick out of Texas A&M has had a rocky road in the NFL. After getting injured in his final collegiate game, Ogbuehi sat out for much of his rookie season while recovering from a torn ACL. He then battled through more injuries during OTAs and the 2016 preseason. Ogbuehi was essentially handed the starting right tackle job in 2016 and received significant fanfare from the coaching staff prior to the start of the season. Everyone was expecting big things from him, but, he was the weakest link along the Bengals’ offensive line and allowed more pressures and sacks than any of his teammates, by a lot. Ogbuehi was so bad at right tackle that he was eventually benched for good and made a position change to be the Bengals’ backup left tackle. He then finished the 2016 season on Injured Reserve as a shoulder injury ended his season one game short after his first and only start at left tackle.

Here’s where Ogbuehi stood in mid-December as far as pressures allowed among all NFL offensive linemen:

Jake Fisher was the Bengals’ second round pick in that same 2015 NFL Draft. The move was seen as a surprise as the Bengals had just selected Ogbuehi one round earlier. But, the hope was that each lineman would develop into starters at left and right tackle. At the time, both starting tackles, Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith, had one year remaining on their respective contracts. Whitworth had his deal re-upped, but Smith left in free agency last year.

Fisher only started three games in 2016, once the Bengals were out of playoff contention, and while he was better at right tackle than Ogbuehi, that’s not saying much. He struggled, which should have been expected in his first three starts. But, it’s unclear if he’s really ready to be a starter in 2017 and Fisher still has a lot to prove.

Whitworth spoke with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday regarding his struggling teammates and voiced an opinion that Ogbuehi and Fisher are having a hard time adjusting from playing in the college spread-style offense, which demands less from blocking lineman

“When you get into these NFL rushers – the power, the speed, the bull rush and all those kind of things – it’s just different than college football,” Whitworth said. He didn’t have the same problem as LSU’s offense is pro-style, but has just as much NFL experience as anyone playing the game to diagnose the issue. “The ball is not out as fast. The plays take a lot longer. You’re playing grown men.”

Whitworth believes Ogbuehi could benefit from more weight training this offseason. This is especially true given Ogbuehi has been injured for much of the two offseasons during which he’s been in Cincinnati. Hopefully, this offseason he’ll be fully healthy for all team workouts and ready to get stronger for the 2017 season.

“You can’t just be athletic and talented and have arm reach and all that,” Whitworth said. “You’ve got to have core strength and power and the ability to sit on people because, really, it’s not as much about keeping up with these people on their feet as being able to stop their power first. I think that’s one of those things Ced will tell you that’s his main goal – to develop some of that.”