If you could possibly believe it, the Bengals offensive line as a whole has gotten worse without even ridding it of the poor performers already on the roster.
The Bengals signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart to a one-year deal. If you didn’t know who Hart was, you’ve been watching football correctly by avoiding him. I’ve sure as heck have tried.
So, who is Bobby Hart?
You can find most of his background here, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Hart played on a Florida State team that saw all of its 22 starters go on to make the NFL, the 2014 National Championship squad led by Jameis Winston. He was one of the 18 players from that team to be drafted in the following two drafts, but was the latest pick out of all of them. He was selected in the middle of the seventh round by the Giants.
A big part of the league’s pessimism with Hart as a prospect was his severe lack of athleticism. He did not test at the combine due to a bad hamstring, but he did at Florida State’s pro day. He was clocked with a 5.61 forty-yard dash time, a 5.15 short shuttle and an 8.08 three cone.
These times all ranked right at the bottom for guards in the draft that year. Of course, raw times don’t give you the full picture when it comes to athleticism. But even comparing his lack of speed and agility relative to his size at 6-5 329 pounds, he still tested as a well-below average athlete at the position.
Measuring density-relative athleticism is crucial to determine which tangible traits an offensive lineman possesses or lacks, and how much force that player can generate and absorb upon contact.
Traits such as balance, flexibility in the hips and ankles and overall quickness in space. Upon reviewing Hart’s tape from 2017, it was clear that he has very little capacity for these traits, and led to a lot of his struggles. (NSFW)
"he's just potential depth, what harm could it do" pic.twitter.com/trIfWYX0a2— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) February 15, 2018
Hart went up against a gauntlet of edge rushers this year and started against one of the best in Demarcus Lawrence in Week 1. The first issue I noticed from Hart (he’s playing right tackle in all these clips) was how late his hands were on the majority of his sets.
Here, Lawrence chops his inside arm which is the setup to his outside swim as Hart tries to recover, but it’s far too late. Hart’s back is making a 90 degree angle with his waist and is no position to reset, the edge is compromised.
pollack saw this first hand too, jesus christ pic.twitter.com/fErKv7mukm— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) February 15, 2018
This time, Hart is quick to strike, but his feet are nowhere in sync with his upper body. He almost falls over completely upon initial contact, and shows a tremendous lack of balance when he attempts to reset his feet, all while attempting to maintain inside hands. He’s at the absolute mercy of Lawrence, and Lawrence disposes of him with ease. Keep in mind, Frank Pollack watched this with his own eyes on the sideline.
Does this remind you of anyone?
You will never absorb and redirect a proper bull rush from a wide-9 edge rusher unless you can get under his pads. Joey Bosa does a great job of lowering his pads and firing upward into Hart, which allows the force he built up to translate seamlessly.
Hart’s hands never get lower than the top of Bosa’s pads, and he’s taken for a ride backwards, opening up a lane for Bosa to disengage and find the ball.
It should be mentioned that while Hart was listed as a guard in the pre-draft process, he has almost exclusively played tackle in the NFL. It’s plays like this that makes you wonder why he was ever asked to play on the edge.
Melvin Ingram is one of the most dangerous edge-benders in the league, he can get under practically any tackle in the league. Hart knows this and does everything to beat Ingram to the top of his arc. But in doing this, he turns his back to the inside and is completely vulnerable to any inside counter, which Ingram executes.
Hart consistently overcompensated his kickslide on vertical sets out of fear he would get bead around the edge.
A lot of success that offensive lineman have is credited to the angles they create with their joints and waist. Proper body lean and angles created by their knees and elbows are the foundation of proper leverage and balance through contact, which is what Hart lacks a lot of time in performing down blocks.
Hart and the tight end perform a combo block (often called a king-read call) on the 4-technique Michael Brockers, whom is a two-gap defender in this front. The tight end gets Brockers in a great position for Hart to drive him out of the gap, but he can’t.
His back is far too upright and his hands are way too high to generate any push of his own. Brockers crosses his face and gets to the ball carrier.
Hart goes up against Brockers in the same alignment, but just has to seal Brockers out of the B-gap, the primary read for the running back on this iso-run. Alas, Hart can’t get any push on Brockers and again, he plugs the gap.
This is a good example of when Hart can get good hand placement and limit what the edge, Brandon Graham, can do to counter. But at the same time, you can see Hart’s lack of flexibility in his ankles and core strength to properly anchor, as Graham takes him back further than he should’ve for not getting inside hands first.
Later in this game, Hart resets his hands as quick as I’ve seen from him. As Graham quickly swipes away Hart’s initial punch, he quickly gets his inside hand on Graham’s inside shoulder to establish space through length, and fires his outside hand to take away the outside for Graham.
A very clean rep was then followed immediately by quite the opposite. Hart is slightly late and never gets his hands on Graham’s chest. Graham is able to use Hart’s superior length against him as he swipes Hart’s fully extended arms to the side and add on to the disruption Manning was feeling from both sides, which lead to a sack.
The Bengals taking a chance on Hart not only says a lot not only about the way the Bengals continue to evaluate the offensive line, but the dismal state of the offensive line itself.
Ultimately, both of these factors led to his eventual termination from the Giants roster, and makes the Bengals picking him up off waivers all the more questionable.
No matter of his minuscule chances of making the roster, bringing a player and teammate like Hart in presents more questions than answers.