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Poll: Bengals’ biggest remaining need heading into 2017 NFL season

Beyond the Bengals coaching staff and front office, you won’t find many, if any, supporters of Cedric Ogbuehi being Cincinnati’s starting left tackle.

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NFL: AFC Wild Card-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals may have had a great showing in this year’s NFL Draft, but they’re far from a perfect team.

Cincinnati still has several questions needing to be answered heading into the summer, and we may not see them solved until the regular season begins, if at all this year. With the free agent market bare, it’s hard to find upgrades at any position on an NFL roster, but that doesn’t mean Cincinnati shouldn’t try.

Pro Football Focus just did a breakdown of the biggest remaining need for every AFC team. To no surprise, they think offensive tackle is the Bengals’ biggest weakness right now.

Cincinnati Bengals – Offensive tackle

Forward thinking, the Bengals drafted two offensive tackles in 2015 in the first two rounds and eased them into the roles as rookies. Once RT Andre Smith departed for Minnesota, Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi battled for the starting role but both struggled mightily with neither being able to lock down the job. LT Andrew Whitworth, one of the best tackles in the NFL for the past five seasons, wasn’t re-signed and allowed to leave for Los Angeles to protect Jared Goff’s blindside. With Fisher and Ogbuehi grading at 43.5 and 39.4 respectively, the OT positions are far from set. If both continue to struggle in training camp and preseason, expect the Bengals to look to address the position on cut down days.

The Bengals have major questions at both offensive tackle spots heading into the 2017 season. Cedric Ogbuehi has been a disaster to this point, and Jake Fisher hasn’t shown he’s capable of being a full-time starter across 16 games. It's very likely this ends up being the worst starting tackle tandem of the Andy Dalton era, and perhaps even the Marvin Lewis era.

But the Bengals don't have to go into 2017 with such a major deficiency here. There are still some decent tackles on the market, and the Bengals would be wise to add another veteran here before training camp opens.

Even if they have faith in Ogbuehi and Fisher, there's no depth behind them outside of Eric Winston, and Winston will be a backup at guard as well.

With thay said, is offensive tackle really the biggest issue right now? You could make a good argument for other positions being bigger issues at the moment, most notably center, where Russell Bodine has annually been one of the worst starting centers during his first three seasons.

But for whatever reason, the Bengals treat him like he’s one of the best and refuse to give him any adequate competition for his job. That’s a bad thing not just because it assures one of the league’s worst centers of keeping his job, but it also leaves Cincinnati even worse off if he’s injured. Right no w, the backup is T.J. Johnson, who’s rarely gotten snaps of any kind in meaningful games.

Bodine is also a free agent in 2018, so the Bengals could be left without a starting center next year. The team drafted center J.J. Dielman in Round 5 this year, but he actually has more experience at tackle and projects to play there at the NFL level.

All of this is why you could make a great argument for center being the biggest need in terms of 2017 and even next year.

So we’ll ask you, what do you think is Cincinnati’s biggest issue at the moment?


What is currently the Bengals’ biggest need?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Offensive Tackle
    (500 votes)
  • 26%
    (282 votes)
  • 2%
    (25 votes)
  • 19%
    Head Coach
    (202 votes)
  • 3%
    The 8th cornerback spot could use an upgrade.
    (40 votes)
1049 votes total Vote Now