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Marvin Lewis explains why Bengals didn’t draft more offensive linemen

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The Bengals had chances to take what seemed like good prospects in the middle rounds, but they passed on those players in order to address other needs.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Billy Price Press Conference The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

Going into the NFL Draft, the Bengals made sure they upgraded their offensive line.

They did so with the addition of Billy Price in Round 1, arguably the top center in the draft and someone that could start from Day 1.

But after Price, the Bengals didn’t take another offensive lineman until Round 7, and that was a developmental prospect in Ole Miss’ Rod Taylor.

It seemed odd that the Bengals didn’t take any other lineman in the earlier rounds, especially since they had chances to take guys like Texas’ Connor Williams, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby and Mississippi State’s Martinas Rankin.

But if you ask Marvin Lewis, it’s pretty clear they didn’t think highly of this class of lineman, and they weren’t going to take one for the sake of taking a lineman.

“We couldn’t create one,” Lewis said of drafting another lineman. “I don’t think we’re going to come in here unless you had two or three first-round picks — and fix an offensive line for an NFL season, anyway.

“Obviously when you say things like that, people feel that’s unrealistic, unless you have three first-round picks to pick three first-round linemen. You’re not going to pick guys that are going to come in here and go, ‘Oh, those guys are better than anybody you’ve got.’

“It’s up to the guys in the building, and it’s up to what we do schematically.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor echoed those sentiments, saying the Bengals weren’t going to reach for linemen they felt weren’t good value at said spot.

“We had (the linemen rated) at different levels. We watched them as a staff,” Lazor said. “If your guy kind of doesn’t line up where you’re picking, you understand why he takes another position. “

The Bengals now go into next season with two positions still up for grabs; right guard and right tackle. Trey Hopkins started most of last season at right guard, but he struggled enough that his job won’t be handed to him in 2018.

Then at right tackle, the Bengals hope Jake Fisher is healthy and ready to go after returning from heart surgery. He’ll be competing for that same spot, but he too has struggled when he’s been healthy over the last two seasons. His spot should be up for grabs, but with no real additions here, he’ll be the slight favorite to retain his spot.

Let’s hope the Bengals made the right call passing on other lineman in this draft. At least there’s a new center and left tackle to help fix up the line. New offensive line coach Frank Pollack should help in that regard, too. The Bengals are trusting him to improve the players who were already on the roster and coach up the new additions, too.