The Bengals’ offensive line wasn’t great last year.
Sure, it got better towards the end of the season, but it is an obvious need this offseason for the Bengals. Many people are treating it like the offensive tackles just need replaced, which isn’t true.
Outside of Clint Boling, every offensive linemen from last year is replaceable. That right guard position should be open for competition as much as the tackles. The Bengals do have two young guards in Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond, who played well in the final two games of the Bengals’ season, but they don’t even compare to the guy we’re about to talk about.
Quenton Nelson is easily the best offensive line prospect in this year’s draft. His value may be hurt by being an interior linemen, but odds are this guy will be an important part of an offensive line in the NFL for years to come.
Nelson has anchored a great offensive line at Notre Dame for a few seasons now, and through all their ups and downs, the on constant was Nelson’s ability to move a defensive line.
Nelson and Mike McGlinchey manned the left side of an offensive line that rushed for over 3,500 rushing yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. What makes that more impressive is the fact that the other team often knew Notre Dame would be running because of their dismal passing game.
The only question is whether Nelson will fall to pick No. 12, and if the Bengals think he is that much better than whatever offensive tackles are sitting there as well.
Weight: 328 pounds
Class: Senior (Red shirt)
College: Notre Dame
Projected Round: 1
Nelson is easily the best linemen in this draft. There isn’t a sure fire franchise left tackle, and no one compares to him among the interior linemen. When you watch his film, you truly appreciate how good he is. He is constantly moving defensive linemen, putting his body in the ideal position to allow his running back space to run and just finishing off blocks with power.
He is probably the safest linemen to pick in this draft. If you take him, you are getting a Pro Bowl level guard for years to come. The only issue when deciding whether the Bengals will take him or not is if they have learned their lesson.
We all remember how the Bengals let Kevin Zeitler walk away allowing him to sign a block buster deal with the Browns. The Bengals claimed they simply didn’t value the guard position enough to give Boling and Zeitler long term deals. That plan clearly backfired, as the Bengals’ already bad offensive line from 2016 took an even bigger step back in 2017.
Nelson would give the Bengals at least five years of unbelievable running lanes, and he has an incredible anchoring ability and awareness in pass protection.
However, the Bengals could look to use their second-round pick or free agency to help address their interior offensive linemen need. They could also rely on competition between Westerman and Redmond to fill that hole in the offensive line on the right side.
The simple fact though is none of those solutions compare to putting an All-Pro talent there like Nelson.