Have the Cincinnati Bengals finally found their solution at center?
That may not even be the position J.J. Dielman has his most success at in the NFL, being that most of his college career was spent elsewhere across the offensive line. Drafted in Round 5 with the 176th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, Dielman fits the mold of offensive linemen the Bengals prefer in that he's very versatile and provides depth at multiple positions.
Dielman was a starting center and team captain for the Utah Utes in 2016 after starting all 26 games in 2014 and 2015 at the right tackle spot. However, Dielman only appeared in five games last season before sustaining a season-ending leg injury. It’s unclear what exactly the injury was, but it was enough to end his season and help lead to him falling into Day 3 of the draft. Dielman isn’t yet participating in Bengals OTAs while still recovering from that injury.
It’s also unclear what position Dielman will play in the NFL, but the kind of versatility he possess is something the Bengals love. Dielman has little chance of taking Russell Bodine’s starting center spot this year, but Bodine hits free agency in 2018. Having Dielman can be insurance in case Bodine goes elsewhere while also giving Cincinnati depth across the offensive line in 2017.
While Dielman looks like a solid addition for the Bengals, most experts viewed this pick as a reach, as he was selected 176th overall.
- ESPN’s Todd McShay had Dielman ranked 260th among his top 300 players coming into the draft.
- Mel Kiper ranked him 269th. Both ESPN experts had him pegged as a center.
- Dielman was not among Pro Football Focus’ top 300 prospects.
- CBS Sports ranked him 136th, as an offensive tackle prospect.
- The Cold Omaha Consensus Big Board, which factors in every major draft ranking, had Dielman ranked 234th among their top 300 prospects.
While the experts may have been sour on Dielman, a big reason was because he missed most of last season due to injury. Combined with his limited sample size at center, he's a very hard prospect to project in the NFL.
The Bengals obviously saw something they liked in him, so here's to hoping Dielman rewards them for their faith. He has a good chance of making the final 53-man roster as long as he can prove capable of playing multiple offensive line spots.
In fact, it’s not crazy to think Dielman will be the backup right tackle behind Jake Fisher since Eric Winson is technically a backup guard as well, and Winston may backup the left tackle spot as well.
You can see the theme of versatility playing out, and the Bengals need plenty of it with so many questions along the line this year. Perhaps Dielman can help provide some much-needed stability to one of the Bengals’ weakest positions.