The NFL Draft is almost here, and with it will come a chance for the Bengals to upgrade their biggest weaknesses.
Many of the team’s biggest weaknesses are along the offensive line, as center, right guard and right tackle are major question marks heading into next season.
Thankfully, there are plenty of quality prospects in this draft who could help fix those issues. However, getting said linemen won’t be easy with a host of NFL teams picking ahead of the Bengals who badly need offensive line help, too.
Many teams picking before 21 could use another lineman, including the Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, Chargers, Ravens, Cardinals, Packers and Bills. Any of them could easily end up drafting a lineman, so it won’t be a big surprise if the Bengals are on the clock at pick No. 21 and the team’s top three to five offensive line targets have already been drafted.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the latest rumors percolating around the league in regards to the top lineman in this year’s draft.
Frank Ragnow solidifying Round 1 status
Much of the pre-draft focus for Cincinnati adding a new center has been on Iowa’s James Daniels and Ohio State’s Billy Price. But Price is recovering from a significant pectoral injury, and sources have told Cincy Jungle that the Bengals aren’t as high on Daniels as they are on some of the other center prospects.
Adding to that, Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow has made a strong case to be the first center drafted this year, and if nothing else, he now appears likely to go in Round 1:
There comes a time when you have to fall on the sword— Doing more work on Frank Ragnow tonight. I’m too low on him. Better to admit it, correct it and move on.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 24, 2018
More on some potential Round 1 surprises, including Georgia RB Sony Michel ... if a team is comfortable with his medical. Has battled a lot physically ... but missed just 2 games over the past 3 seasons @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/3opGzCgif3— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 18, 2018
Between Ragnow, Price and Daniels, the Bengals should finally make the decision to spend a high pick on a center and fix that position for the foreseeable future.
Lineman frenzy late in Round 1
In the above video, NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero mentions that there could be an offensive lineman frenzy at the bottom of Round 1. That’s important for the Bengals in two ways:
- It helps reinforce the belief that a lineman will be the pick at 21. Between Daniels, Ragnow, Price, Mike McGlinchey, Connor Williams, Isaiah Wynn, Kolton Miller and Will Hernandez, there’s too many good lineman who are going to be there for the Bengals to not take one of them.
- It also means that most, if not all of those guys will be off the board by the time the Bengals go back on the clock at pick No. 46 in Round 2. If the Bengals want to assure themselves of landing an instant-impact lineman, they need to get one in the first round.
Right now, I believe the Bengals go center at 21, but don’t be surprised if it’s a guard or tackle either. I do think McGlinchey is off the board by then, but if by some chance he is not, pencil him in as the pick.
Billy Price’s health no longer a concern
Billy Price, who was once regarded as the top center in this draft, is still recovering from a partially torn pectoral muscle suffered at the combine. That is threatening to keep him from being the first center taken and may knock him into Round 2.
Prior to the draft, Price went to Indianapolis for medical rechecks on his injured pectoral. According to SB Nation’s Alexis Chassen, the recheck went very well.
Now, NFL Network is reporting that Price has a real shot at going in Round 1 and his health is no longer a concern:
Likely first-rounder. There could actually be three centers going in the first round — Ragnow, James Daniels, and Billy Price, whose health is no longer really a question. https://t.co/08JTiQNwi0— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2018
Glad to hear this...Price is one of the most dominant center prospects to enter the draft in a long time..still hearing concern about the injury but he'll be a great player in time. Contractually he's better off as a 2nd round selection. https://t.co/Qy34AVLx77— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 24, 2018
The Bengals have been keeping tabs on Price, and they’ve already met with him ahead of the draft. He was being touted as the best center in this draft prior to his injury, so if teams think he’s going to be healthy, he may still be No. 1 on the Bengals’ big board.
I believe Price is one of the likeliest picks for the Bengals if he’s there in Round 1. They want a center early, and when healthy, Price has a good case for being the best one in this draft.
If I had to guess right now, I would say the Bengals have Price, Ragnow and Daniels ranked in that order in terms of centers who could be the pick at 21.
Kolton Miller the top tackle
Hey Bengals. Let’s not take another Cedric Ogbuehi-type lineman this year, ok?
Ogbuehi was drafted in Round 1 because of his talent, athleticism and potential to be developed into a quality left tackle. That said, he was nowhere close to reaching said potential when drafted, and he’s never come remotely close to it while in the NFL.
Kolton Miller is a similar prospect this year, in that he’s a talented, raw prospect who has the potential to be developed into a quality NFL tackle. That potential has him getting strong Round 1 interest heading into Thursday, so much that some teams reportedly have him ranked as the best tackle (gasp) in this draft, according to CBS Sports.
Resident NFL lineman guru Geoff Schwartz is not a fan (but who is?):
This is so infuriating and teams will continue to miss on OTs. The best OT is Mike McGlinchey. It’s not a question. Miller is highly athletic and might have more “upside” but he constantly false steps in his pass set. That’s a bad flaw and hard to correct without proper training https://t.co/cJi65P6iLb— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) April 20, 2018
This would be a terrible pick for the Bengals, who need an instant-impact player in Round 1. They’ve missed on too many developmental prospects in Round 1 recently. They finally need to land a guy who makes an impact in Game 1. Miller simply isn’t that. Miller should not be in the Round 1 conversation for the Bengals.
James Daniels thinks the Bengals are drafting him
So, apparently James Daniels wants everyone to believe the Bengals are picking him at 21:
James Daniels has been telling everyone that he’s going to Cincinnati, per source. Not specified if he was just predicting based off interest or they told him they would pick him at 21, but that’s what Daniels has been saying to people.— Waldo Roren (@Waldo_Roren) April 24, 2018
The Bengals have shown plenty of interest in Daniels, including a pre-draft visit. Still, I do not think this happens unless Price and Ragnow have already been drafted. There’s a chance that happens, but the good thing is Daniels is completely worthy of a first-round selection.
Admittedly, I was pretty high on Daniels being the No. 1 center early in the pre-draft process, but feel Ragnow and Price are higher on the Bengals’ board. So for now, I would not put much stock into what Daniels is telling people, but at the same time, he’d be a solid pick at 21 and a big upgrade at the Bengals’ biggest weakness.