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What’s the best-case scenario for the Bengals’ offensive tackles in 2018?

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The offensive line was the weakest group on the Bengals’ team last year, and it caused a myriad of issues. Could a major addition at left tackle be a major answer to the problems?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

When building an NFL franchise, the quarterback position is usually where a team starts. However, protecting said passer is also of paramount importance, and the offensive tackle is one of the most valued players on a franchise for this capacity.

The Cincinnati Bengals have had massive success with many players on the outside to protect their quarterbacks, ranging from the incomparable Anthony Munoz, to Willie Anderson and Andrew Whitworth more recently.

Cincinnati’s current group at the position has a similar draft status amongst its players, but the potential for some has yet to be realized. It’s a gigantic year for Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, as both are in the final years of their respective rookie deals and are zooming in on the starting right tackle spot.

Comings and goings:

Departures: Eric Winston (free agent), Andre Smith (free agency—Cardinals), Austin Fleer (post-preseason opener cut)

Additions: Bobby Hart (free agency—Giants), Cordy Glenn (acquired via trade with Bills), Austin Fleer (UDFA)

The cast:

Projected starters: Cordy Glenn (left tackle), Bobby Hart (right tackle)

Rotators/backups: Jake Fisher, Cedric Ogbuehi

Grinding for a roster spot: Javarius Leamon, Kent Perkins, Justin Murray

We might as well have an asterisk next to Hart’s name as the starter because that open starting spot is very much up in the air. And, given the team’s recent release of the depth chart, he has the inside track as the starting right tackle.

However, Fisher, the 2015 second-round pick, seemed to have the upper-hand at the spot throughout the spring, but Ogbuehi might also give him and Hart a run for the money.

Hart is a guy the Bengals like because of his previous size (6’5”, 334 pounds), as well as his apparent positional flexibility. However, when they sprang on him early in 2018, thoughts about him potentially starting were serious. He has since shed about 15 pounds, making him more nimble on the edge.

Perkins showed enough to hang around on the team’s practice squad last year and even suit up for a game in 2017. Leamon, Fleer and Murray are looking like possible 2018 candidates for the practice squad, though it seems as if new position coach Frank Pollack is having an open competition.

2018 outlook:

It’s hard to be much worse than the Bengals’ offensive line looked last year, so, by default, we’re assuming some form of improvement will be had. And, if Glenn can stay healthy, he’ll be a massive help—both figuratively and literally.

Call it whatever you’d like, but something tells me that some sort of surprise might be in store on the right side. Whether that’s in Ogbuehi supplanting Fisher as the starter, or Hart grabbing either the open right tackle or right guard spot, it’s just a hunch.

Still, after losing Smith and Whitworth after they were critical to the success of the 2011-2015 seasons, the team has been reeling for their replacements. Glenn should be a quality addition and the hope is that Pollack can get the most out of someone within a group of disappointments to anchor the right tackle spot.