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Assessing the value the Bengals got in Ole Miss OL Rod Taylor

The Bengals took a late-round flyer on Rod Taylor in hopes he could become a reliable swing lineman in the pros.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals lost their top swing offensive lineman in Andre Smith this offseason.

Due to various injuries across the offensive line in 2017, Smith wound up playing both tackle spots after spending a good portion of training camp and the preseason at offensive guard. now that he’s in Arizona, the Bengals hope to find another swing lineman capable of playing all across the offensive line in 2018.

That could be where Rod Taylor comes into play.

Taylor has bounced around the offensive line in his college career with the Ole Miss Rebels. He started every game at right tackle this past season after being Ole Miss’ left tackle in 2016. He started at right guard in his first two seasons, and some think he’ll be a guard in the NFL.

Taylor ended up being the only other lineman drafted other than Ohio State center Billy Price, despite the offensive line in dire need of more quality lineman. You have to think there’s a decent shot Taylor makes the roster, especially since he’s experienced all over the line, which makes him more attractive as that seventh/eighth lineman.

But while Taylor played all throughout the line, he was never effective enough to think he’ll make it in the NFL as anything more than an emergency backup.

Going into the draft, Taylor was widely projected as a Round 7/undrafted prospect.

ESPN’s Todd McShay did not have Taylor among his top 300 prospects coming into the draft. Neither did Mel Kiper, who ranked Taylor as the 26th-best offensive guard. CBS Sports had him ranked 351st.

The Cold Omaha Consensus Big Board, which factors in every major draft ranking, did not have Taylor ranked among their top 300 prospects.

It’s clear Taylor was an afterthought heading into the draft, but that’s primarily because he started at offensive tackle and struggled there over his final two seasons. We often see college tackles make successful transitions to guards in the pros, so perhaps this is where Taylor can provide value to the Bengals.

And while Taylor may not be someone you want starting at tackle, his experience there will make him, at worst, an emergency option if other guys get hurt. If he can make a positive impact at guard, that added versatility could help propel him onto the 53-man roster in 2018.