Players don’t really change is something I truly believe to be real, and fourth-year offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is continuing to validate that statement.
Ogbuehi no longer has the presence of the coach that fell in love with and reached for him in the 2015 NFL Draft, but this isn’t a knock on Paul Alexander, who did many great things in his 24 years with Cincinnati.
But he missed with Ogbuehi, and that can’t be argued with.
This offseason, Ogbuehi has been working under the tutelage of Alexander’s replacement Frank Pollack, who oversaw the growth of left tackle Tyron Smith in Dallas. Ogbuehi and Smith share two commonalities in that they were first-round picks, and they have extraordinary length for the position.
But Smith was a great prospect that became a great player, while Ogbuehi was a rough project that couldn’t re-wire the fatal flaws in his game.
Nevertheless, there was some hope out there that Pollack could kickstart Ogbuehi’s stunt in development in just a matter of months, and while Pollack is a good coach, he’s not a magician.
The tape Ogbuehi has put out so far this preseason proves that.
Jake Fisher at left tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi on right. Against backups pic.twitter.com/XNZMzcFJmj— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) August 10, 2018
The Bengals didn’t draft anybody to compete with Ogbuehi at right tackle, all they did was sign another troubled player in Bobby Hart to a one-year deal. So far, Hart has established himself ahead of Ogbuehi despite not looking too hot himself.
In a contract year, after getting demoted from left tackle and watching his fifth-year option denied by the team, Ogbuehi has shown no signs that he’s any different from years past.
And we shouldn’t expect bad players to suddenly become good ones, because that is and always will be a fallacy. But should we expect the Bengals to finally say enough is enough?
Being one of the six remaining players on the team from the draft classes of 2014 and 2015, Ogbuehi has witnessed the team liquidate the majority of busts that have come from those two groups. His draft status as a first-rounder has obviously protected him from termination, and the team did decide to again roll the dice with him last year after a troubling 2016.
Now, he’s not a starter anymore, and looks nowhere near the level of competency even as a backup.
The Bengals aren’t a team that so easily gives up on their players with starting experience and considerable dead money still attached to their contracts. George Iloka had both of these and when the team decided he was no longer going to start, they did away with his contract that recognized him as a starter this week, despite the dead money that came with it.
Ogbuehi’s $2.9 million cap hit this year isn’t egregious for a reserve, and while the Bengals are still paying him for his signing bonus that was prorated to this year, they’d still save money if they released him.
So the question is: should they?
The team traditionally keeps one backup tackle that can play from both sides, but sometimes they keep one on the left side and one on the right side. At this point, they likely don’t have confidence in either Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher to come in for Cordy Glenn or Hart in an emergency, and keeping both means they can’t keep another more talented player at another position.
More depth is always nice, but it’s meaningless if that depth doesn’t help you.
We wouldn’t be posing this question if Ogbuehi could simply out-play Hart at right tackle, as both had equal chances at the position in the early portion of training camp. Now, his only way of staying on is potentially proving himself more useful than Fisher, who hasn’t exactly looked great this preseason, but still looks like the better player.
Expecting drastic change isn’t always reasonable. In football, players can look better under more favorable circumstances, and limitations can be minimized. In Ogbuehi’s case, he’s shown he can’t progress from the player he’s always been, and the only reservation of sticking with him is that what’s alongside him and behind him is just not much better or worse.
The situation the Bengals have at right tackle is nothing short of ugly. Maybe it’s time to start cutting some losses.