2017 is a season most Bengals fans will try to repress. Just the thought of Cincinnati letting Andrew Whitworth walk away in free agency while adding no one to compete with Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle is enough to get fans upset. The offensive line as a whole took a huge step back after a miserable 2016 season. Luckily there was one bright spot up front from last season (and I’m not talking about the season ending with Russell Bodine’s last game in stripes).
Bengals left guard Clint Boling was phenomenal when he wasn‘t having to account for the issues on both side of him. He was really the only guy you could rely on upfront, game in and game out. That was true enough that Pro Football Focus ranked him as the fourth best pass blocking guard last season.
Boling, though he finished the season at left tackle due to injuries, has been best suited for the guard position, as evidenced by his 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency across his 474 pass-block snaps at left guard in 2017.
A fourth-round pick in 2011, Boling has played at least 788 offensive snaps in each of his past six seasons with Cincinnati, earning 73.0-plus grades in all of them. His 2017 campaign, however, was easily his best in terms of pass protection as it was the first time he had eclipsed a pass-blocking efficiency above 97.3 in his career.
Boling will return to his natural position of left guard in 2018 in hopes of repeating his career year alongside new left tackle Cordy Glenn,
It shouldn’t come as a shock that no other Bengal made the list. Unfortunately an offensive line is usually as good as its weakest link, and the Bengals had several guys competing for that spot last season.
Boling will now also have the luxury of playing between Glenn and Billy Price in 2018, which should be a huge upgrade from Ogbuehi and Bodine. All of the sudden it matters when he holds his blocks because it is possible his left tackle didn’t completely whiff on his pass rusher, and his center is probably still standing.
For as good as Boling was as a pass blocker, he still only ranked as the 24th best guard in the NFL according to PFF last season with a rating of 75.5. That means his run blocking left plenty to be desired, but the addition of Frank Pollack as the new offensive line coach will help that. Ya know, plus the whole having serviceable players next to him thing.
Boling is the only offensive lineman left on the Bengals who is playing on a second contract from the team. Fortunately, it seems the Bengals offensive line is back on the rise, and Boling is a major reason for that.