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Film Review: Cordy Glenn is a bigger upgrade for Bengals at left tackle than you think

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The Bengals did a big thing, and it was worth it.

Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears

Six Aprils ago, the Bengals were about to be on the clock for the second time in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The team had just selected cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th overall pick, which they acquired in the Carson Palmer trade with the Oakland Raiders. Shortly afterwords, the New England Patriots called up the Bengals’ war room and offered a chance for the Bengals to move down six spots for an extra third-round pick. The Bengals of course accepted this deal and selected the second guard taken in that draft, Kevin Zeitler.

The fourth guard taken in that draft was none other Cordy Glenn 14 picks later.

That trade was the first time the Marvin Lewis-led Bengals traded down in the first-round since they did it twice in 2004. Those deals ultimately lead to the Bengals ending up with Chris Perry and missing out on Steven Jackson.

The Bengals, like any team, will not deviate from their trends unless presented with value that exceeds their contentment of staying put. So when the Bengals essentially traded back nine spots in this year’s draft with the Buffalo Bills for Glenn, the six-year (going on seven-year) veteran represents the surplus of value. Glenn is not available for a deal like this unless there’s some form of reasonable doubt the Bills had with Glenn, but the upside is clear to see. He put together 61 starts in his first four years as the Bills’ left tackle, good enough for the team to ink him to a five-year extension that consisted of 47 percent guaranteed money at signing and $30 million in total by year two of the deal.

From 2013-2016, Pro Football Focus graded him in the mid to low 80s all four years. The consistency is what should stick out even if you take those grades with a grain of salt. In 2016, he was the NFL1000’s sixth highest graded left tackle. The common denominator here is that he was healthy for the majority of these years. After missing three games in his first four years, he’s missed 16 games in the two seasons since signing the extension with nagging ankle and foot injuries. Despite the talent and quality play, the muddy future of Glenn’s health is what made him expendable in Buffalo. But upon reviewing the tape from the last two seasons, health is indeed the only pressing issue.

Vice grips and length. That’s the first thing that stands out with Glenn. With Cedric Ogbuehi, the length is absolutely there. You even get more lower body quickness. But the ability to lock onto defenders and completely paralyze them mid-rush is Glenn’s strength. Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown, despite his bad combine performance, is still revered by some for his ability to easily move guys off the ball. Glenn has that immovable frame and mass but understands hand placement much better. It’s what you want to look for at the position.

Speed and twitch are rendered useless if you expose yourself to the first punch. Bruce Irvin learned this the hard way against Glenn. Ogbuehi has tried to win with the hug technique for the past two seasons and has failed to maximize it with his lack of core strength, that’s just not an issue with Glenn. If you give him the opportunity to swallow your counter, he will.

Even when you manage to get free for a second against Glenn, that frame and recovery combination is too much. If you want to beat Glenn, you need to do it quickly. Here, Chris Long is stalled initially but manages to swipe away Glenn’s hands for a split second well into the rep. Glenn fires his outside arm right back up to lock in Long and end any intention of him getting by.

Something we are far too familiar with Ogbuehi is him getting manhandled by the bull rush. It shouldn’t be surprising that Glenn, who weighs 30-40 pounds more than Ogbuehi, is physically capable of absorbing force better. It’s his timing and feet that add the proverbial cherries on top. You’re not getting through him unless he trips by himself.

The trait that hinders Glenn’s ability at tackle the most would be the lack of explosion out of his stance, but in terms of creating space and mirroring speed rushers, he is good enough in this regard. His length helps him beat edge rushers to the top of the arc, and that aforementioned frame acts as a wall. He’s got just enough quickness at that size.

Similarly, Glenn packs a lot of relative speed at his incredible size, but he’s not quite Andrew Whitworth in space. Whitworth was such a unicorn because at 330 pounds he could erase you in a phone booth, track you down in space and erase you there. Glenn is more phone booth in that regard. When he’s in space, he’s not going to always be able to lock on and drive his target out in space, he’s just not that kind of athlete.

As far as scheme versatility goes, the Bills rushing offense was primarily built off of gap-blocking with a lot of inside zone. And that benefitted Glenn for the kind of athlete he is. He wasn’t really asked to reach backside defensive tackles, but when healthy, it’s something that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for Glenn.

From my point of view, the grades match the tape and the tape matches the trade. The Bengals are in a much more flexible spot where they don’t have to potentially reach for an offensive tackle in the top half of the first round, and if they’re still targeting one at pick No. 21 to play at right tackle, the value of that pick will be much better.

Glenn gives the Bengals an above average starter at the position where the team ranked about the worst in the league, and if Glenn for whatever reason doesn’t see the end of his deal in three years, the Bengals can release him with no dead money after the 2018 season.

This is one of the smartest moves the Bengals have made in terms of acquiring talent from outside the organization, and its significance shouldn’t be downplayed.