The Cincinnati Bengals will have a revamped offensive line in 2017. And though the team only drafted one offensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft, a few players were added to the unit in undrafted free agency. Oregon State’s Dustin Stanton was one of those players and he joins a young group of linemen looking to stand out and earn a spot on the roster in 2017.
Will Stanton do enough this summer to be part of the Bengals’ final 53-man roster in September?
Position: Offensive guard
Weight: 298 pounds
College: Oregon State
Hometown: Marysville, Wash.
Stanton is signed to a 3-year, $1,665,000 contract as an undrafted free agent. In 2017, Stanton will have a cap hit of $465,000 if he makes the final roster, according to Spotrac.
Stanton is someone who didn’t get a lot of attention in college at Oregon State, a team that went 6-18 over the past two seasons. But even during the Beavers’ struggles, Stanton was a guy who consistently performed well and became one of the team’s best players.
In 2016, Stanton helped the Beavers set the school’s single-season rushing record with 5.2 yards per carry and was named a team captain. He did so while starting all 12 games, three coming at right tackle and nine at right guard. In 2015, Stanton started all 12 games at right tackle after starting six games there in 2014. He originally came to Oregon State as a tight end and has experience at center and even long snapper, too.
Stanton earned PAC-12 All-Academic First Team honors, and graduated with a degree in business administration with a focus in entrepreneurship. He has the brains to be an NFL lineman and learn a playbook with complex blocking schemes, something that's proven difficult in Cincinnati with Paul Alexander's schemes.
Hopefully, Stanton will learn quickly and showcase how much on-field talent he possesses during the preseason, which could help him earn a roster spot as a swing lineman.
This offseason, Stanton blogged about his offseason ventures leading up to the NFL Draft and revealed Cincinnati hosted him for a pre-draft visit on April 11. Stanton detailed his individual workout with the team and Bengals offensive quality control coach Robert Couch.
"My workout with the Bengals went really well. We started off with film, which was awesome. We talked more about the Bengals' stuff, kind of learned some of their schemes and their terminology for things," said Stanton. "The workout was kind of status quo with all blocking schemes and pulling. I did a lot of snapping and long snapping for them, too. Coach (Robert) Couch was excited to see that I can play center and long snap as well, so it was good to show him that. He was happy with what he saw."
Stanton added that Coach said the former Beavers lineman graded out as a fourth-round pick, though Stanton went undrafted before the Bengals signed him.
Going into the draft, Stanton was ranked 574th overall by NFL Draft Scout. That's the range in which players could hear their name called in Round 7, but it's more likely they go undrafted. For what it's worth, CBS had Mason Schreck ranked 507th going into the draft, and the Bengals spent a seventh-round pick on him.
While the offensive line is a big question mark heading into the 2017 season, Stanton is still facing an uphill climb toward making the final roster. He's likely behind Trey Hopkins, Alex Redmond and T.J. Johnson in terms of backup interior lineman spots.
Assuming Clint Boling and Andre Smith are the starting guards along with Russell Bodine at center, that leaves about 2-3 spots on the interior for backups. It's also possible the Bengals just keep Johnson to play all three spots, allowing for an extra roster spot to be dedicated to something like a seventh wide receiver (something the Bengals want to do) or a seventh linebacker.
In other words, don't expect to see Stanton on the final roster, but he can certainly earn a spot on the practice squad with a good camp and preseason.
Odds: 8.5 percent.