The Bengals badly need to address the center position early in this year’s NFL Draft.
Thankfully, there are a host of centers worthy of late first or early second-round picks. It just so happens the Bengals have one of each, as they’ll have the 21st and 46th overall picks this year.
Frank Ragnow probably isn’t making it to 46, so he could be someone in play at 21 if the Bengals want to address center with their first pick. So of course, the Bengals are hosting Ragnow for a pre-draft visit, according to Tom Pelissero.
Ragnow is regarded as one of the top centers in this year’s NFL Draft. Some even think he’s the best center in this year’s draft. He’s actually got extensive experience at offensive guard and center during his college career, so he’s someone that should find a role with the Bengals as soon as Game 1 of his rookie season.
As a sophomore in 2015, Ragnow started all 13 games at right guard. Then in 2016, he started 12 games at center and one art right guard.
As a senior this past season, Ragnow started every game at center and was Pro Football Focus’ top FBS offensive lineman with a 93.7 overall grade.
Ideally, if the Bengals spend a first-round pick on a center, he’ll be someone that can also make an impact at guard in the event someone else wins the center spot. T.J. Johnson has been in the system since 2013, so he may be the better option early on at center.
If that’s the case, Ragnow could still play at right guard, where the Bengals also have a big need. Then as the season progresses, the Bengals can slowly work Ragnow into being the starting center.
But in reality, if the Bengals spend one of their first two picks on a center, he’ll very likely be starting Game 1, and Ragnow is more than good enough to do so and be an upgrade over Russell Bodine, who is now in Buffalo.
The Bengals have now met with and/or hosted the centers in this draft, including Ragnow, Billy Price and James Daniels. Most draft experts think those will be the first three centers drafted this year, and there’s a decent chance one of them is the 21st pick for the Bengals.