If you are looking for the poster child of the Bengals player who fans are the most frustrated with (for their on-field struggles), Cedric Ogbuehi had a good battle going with former center Russell Bodine last year for that distinction. Now that Bodine is in Buffalo, Ogbuehi holds this title with an undisputed claim.
Drafted in the first round, despite suffering an ACL injury in his last season in college, Ogbuehi missed much of his rookie season. He played in the last five games of 2015, plus the playoff game as an extra lineman. The following season, in 2016, he was named the starting right tackle, to start opposite Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. Ogbuehi struggled for a dozen games at right tackle before the Bengals had seen enough. At the end of the season, the Bengals shifted him to left tackle hoping it would be a more natural fit for him. Unfortunately he gave up two sacks in that game before suffering a torn rotator cuff that ended his season.
After the Bengals allowed long-time left tackle Whitworth to depart in free agency upon the conclusion of the 2016 season, the team made Ogbuehi its starting left tackle for 2017. Despite gross dereliction of duty in blocking defenders, he played every game until a minor shoulder injury in Week 14 gave the Bengals the excuse they needed to mercifully end his season. To give an idea of how bad his 2017 season was, he was graded by Pro Football Focus with a 40.9 overall grade, which ranked him as the 70th best tackle. Keep in mind there are roughly 64 starting tackles in the NFL.
Weight: 310 pounds
College: Texas A&M
Hometown: Allen, TX
Experience: Fourth-Year Player
The Bengals declined the fifth year team option on his rookie contract, meaning that he is in the fourth and final year of his $9.3 million deal that he signed as a first round pick in 2015. The fifth year option would have cost the Bengals $9.6M in 2018. It’s understandable that the team would not have wanted to pay him top-20 tackle money when his production on the field better matches a backup than a starter, let along a top-20 starter in the league.
Ogbuehi was a three year starter for Texas A&M, bouncing from right guard as a redshirt sophomore, to right tackle as a redshirt junior, and finally left tackle in his fifth season with the Aggies. Despite being demoted for a couple games in his fifth season from left tackle to right tackle, and despite leading the SEC with seven sacks allowed, he was widely considered to be a mid to late first round selection thanks to his size and athletic ability to move. Apparently the ability to move backward was viewed favorably?
He tore his ACL in Texas A&M’s bowl game, which was expected to knock his inflated draft stock down to the second round. But the Bengals were undeterred, and invested a mid-first round pick on him.
The biggest concern with Ogbuehi as a prospect, other than his inability to block defenders from the tackle position, was a lack of core strength. The Bengals obviously felt that a year in an NFL weight room would fix this issue, as former offensive line Paul Alexander coach gushed lovingly with the selection of Cedric Ogbuehi, “I frick’n love him. He’s a top-of-the-draft player.”
There are two schools of thought with Ogbuehi’s roster odds. The negative one is that Ogbuehi struggled in college, and has struggled for three seasons in the NFL. Nothing shows that he has the ability to be an NFL starter, and the team should move on.
The positive one states that Ogbuehi should remain on the roster because the Bengals are dangerously thin at offensive tackle, and that with a pile full of prayerful novenas plus coaching by new offensive line coach Frank Pollack, the miraculous could occur, and Ogbuehi could be transformed into a serviceable starter.
Nothing from Ogbuehi’s play on the filed dictates he should be on the roster, but it’s highly likely he will be a member of the Bengals in 2018. First, as mentioned previously, is the matter of necessity. Outside of left tackle Cordy Glenn (who missed part of 2018 with an injury), the rest of the Bengals offensive tackle group has not fared much better than Ogbuehi in the NFL. The second reason is that reports from OTAs indicate Ogbuehi may have actually seen some very slight improvement in his play. Either way, without better options, he’s likely a backup for the Bengals in 2018 if not, daresay, a starter. He did practice with the first team offense on the first day of training camp. Though, there will be a rotation and competition that he’s involved in for both the right tackle and right guard spots.
Roster Odds: 85 percent.