When it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster, offensive guard is one of the more intriguing positions heading into training camp.
With Kevin Zeitler gone, there’s going to be a nice battle for that starting right guard spot. Andre Smith is the frontrunner and current projected starter, but there will be some heated battles for the backup spots, which could produce a challenger for Smith’s starting spot.
Among the contenders vying for one of those spots is Alex Redmond, who joined the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA last season. What are his chances of actually making the 53-man roster this year?
Position: Offensive line
Weight: 310 pounds
Hometown: Cerritos, Calif.
Experience: First-Year Player
According to Spotrac, Redmond is signed to a two-year, $1,020,000 contract. In 2017, Redmond will earn a base salary of $465,000. If he makes the final roster, Redmond will be an exclusive rights free agent in the 2019 offseason.
Redmond, a two-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention, started 31 games for the UCLA Bruins during his final three seasons of college football, primarily at guard. Redmond started all 13 games at right guard his first season and was named a Freshman All-American. He started eight games in 2014, and 10 in 2015.
The junior lineman entered the 2016 NFL Draft following the Bruins' regular-season finale and didn't play in his team's bowl game. He got some draft consideration, but failed to hear his name called.
Going into the draft, CBS Sports had Redmond ranked as their 316th-best prospect, while ESPN Scouts Inc. has him ranked 314th, putting him in range to possibly be a seventh-round pick. Though he went undrafted, he was easily one of the Bengals’ best undrafted free agent signings last year.
The guys at Scouts Inc. provided some clarity on why Redmond left for the draft early and skipped his team’s bowl. He was actually declared academically ineligible the week of his team's bowl, but the decision to forgo his senior season came because he wanted to begin earning money to support his daughter.
That still hurt Redmond's stock, though he did get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. And for what it’s worth, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared Redmond to Steelers center Cody Wallace in his draft profile. Wallace has been a decent backup in his career, and it looks like Redmond may have a similar outlook in Cincinnati if he makes the 53-man roster this year.
After Redmond signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals last year, he had a so-so showing in training camp and the preseason. He fell behind after not participating in OTAs due to the NFL’s rule that prohibits players from practicing until their school holds graduation. It wasn’t enough for him to have a real shot at the 53-man roster, but it did earn him a spot on the practice squad.
Now, Redmond has been playing well in OTAs, enough that his once slim roster odds are rising heading into training camp.
There's already one entrenched starter in Clint Boling at left guard. Veteran Eric Winston has worked as a backup guard, as has second-year riser Jake Fisher, who is expected to start at right tackle.
The Bengals also have backup center T.J. Johnson doubling as a guard. Trey Hopkins is a promising prospect after bouncing between the practice squad and 53-man roster in recent years. It doesn’t help Redmond that the Bengals stole one of the top guards in last year's draft in Christian Westerman, who has a great shot of making the roster again this year as a guard and possibly backup center.
And while we all know of Russell Bodine’s issues, he’s entrenched as the starting center this year. That leaves Redmond facing some stiff odds to make the final 53-man roster, but the practice squad may be a different story.
If the Bengals keep two offensive linemen on the 10-man practice squad, Redmond doesn't have a lot of guys he has to beat out. As long as he does well in training camp and the preseason, Redmond has a great chance of at least making the practice squad in 2017. And don’t be surprised if he’s on the final roster.
Roster Odds: 30 percent.