The Cincinnati Bengals left town for summer vacation with just 89 men on the roster. That changed today as the team signed a rookie offensive lineman to compete for a roster spot this summer.
Guard Cameron Lee, a rookie free agent out of Illinois State, was signed on Tuesday.
Lee, a 6’6” 320 pound offensive lineman played in 39 games in four years at Illinois State (2013-16), with starts in all 25 games his junior and senior seasons.
The guard position is somewhat of a question mark for the Bengals this season. Clint Boling will hold down his starting spot at left guard, but the right guard position was vacated by Kevin Zeitler this offseason and there will be a competition to see who takes over his spot.
The expectation is that Andre Smith will move to right guard after playing right tackle for his entire NFL career. He was signed to a $3,250,000 contract this offseason, so he is getting paid like a starter. Additionally, Trey Hopkins, T.J. Johnson, Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman will push for playing time and an opportunity at the position. Now, Lee is added into that mix as the Bengals foster a competition at the right guard spot.
Lee played three sports in college and holds a number of baseball records at his high school, in addition to being a 1,000 point scorer in basketball at Oakwood High School in Illinois. He was a walk-on at Illinois State on the football team before winning the starting job at right guard in his junior year. Lee has experience at right tackle in addition to right guard, and that type of versatility is something the Bengals love. It's also something that will help him make an impression on the coaching staff this year.
Lee was projected to be drafted late on Day 3, but ended up going undrafted before the Saints picked him up. Here's an excerpt of his draft profile from NFL.com:
Has long arms at the end of a well-proportioned, NFL-caliber frame. Always looking to finish his blocks when he's able to sustain. Will flash some edge to his play. Attempts to unlock hips and roll them into his run blocks. Plays with some upper body "wrestling strength" when it's time to maul. Pass sets with a wide base. Possesses natural anchor strength to battle back against bull-rush attempts. Sees and responds to twists. Keeps hands hanging in punch-ready position. Hands generally stay inside the frame of opponent.
Pops up too tall after the snap. Poor pad level robs him of low-man status and ability to generate drive-blocking power. Has heavy feet and is slow into second-level blocks. Unable to mirror athletic interior rushers smoothly. Straight-legged pass setter with poor change of direction quickness. Waist-bending and leaning into blocks is a common theme throughout the tape. Has problems with body control and balance. Over-sets on the edges and allows his weight to drift outside of his frame. Tends to lead with his upper body in all aspects of his game. Needs to play with faster hands.
Lee was invited to this year's Combine where he ran a 5.44 second 40-yard dash, 4.75 20-yard shuttle and 8.02 second 3-cone drill; he recorded 18 reps on the bench press and had a 25.5" vertical jump and 100" broad jump.
The Bengals now have a full 90-man roster heading into training camp, which begins on July 27.