Last season was our first real look at the possible future of the Bengals’ offensive line. Most of the eyes were on Cedric Ogbuehi getting his first starts at left tackle, but Jake Fisher was also supposed to be the future right tackle for this team.
Fisher has often flown under the radar for better or worse since Ogbuehi’s struggles have really kept the spotlight off of him. Fisher didn’t perform nearly as poorly as Ogbuehi, but he didn’t do much to inspire confidence that he could be anything more than an average tackle early in 2017.
Then the news hit. Fisher went to the hospital in Jacksonville for an irregular heartbeat, the Bengals placed Fisher on injured reserve, and he had to get a procedure for atrial fibrillation.
Fisher has been cleared for football activities for a while now, and looks to establish himself as the front-runner in heated competition for the right tackle position.
Weight: 305 pounds
Hometown: Traverse City, MI
Experience: Fourth-Year Player
Fisher is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract. He is set to make a little over $1 million in 2018 while counting for $1.3 million against the cap, according to Spotrac.
It is doubtful the Bengals will extend Fisher before the 2018 season, which means the two sides will likely be talking following the season. Fisher will have to use the 2018 season to audition for the Bengals and possibly the rest of the NFL.
Fisher was the Bengals second-round pick by the Bengals in 2015. At that point the Bengals were so loaded with talent that they attempted to try and solidify the perimeter of their offensive line for the future since at the time they still had Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith at left and right tackle respectively.
Fisher found his way onto the field before 2017 in several ways. The first was as the sixth offensive lineman on the field or what most call an eligible lineman. He would essentially line up as a tight end along the line of scrimmage, which added a huge boost to the run game. The Bengals weren’t afraid to have him run routes though from this position either.
Fisher also played some fullback as well fulfilling a similar role of adding a boost to the running game. In 2016, when the team allowed Smith to walk in free agency, Fisher was able to spell Ogbuehi at right tackle on occasion when his first round counterpart was struggling, which helped lead to Smith being re-signed in 2017.
2017 was really his first shot to show his skills at his designated position on a full-time basis. He showed promise, but obviously, his health had to take priority. Fisher only played eight games and started in seven of them, and was oftentimes rotated in and out with Smith early in the season due to his unknown heart condition at the time.
Considering the severity of Fisher’s condition, it’s wonderful that he can still play football. The first thing he has to do though is get back into football shape. He dropped a ton of weight, falling all the way down to 305 lbs. Not to mention he wasn’t cleared that long ago for full workouts. Thus far in training camp, he’s been moving well and has been given equal opportunity with Ogbuehi and Bobby Hart at right tackle.
Fisher has a much better chance of making the roster than Hart does due to his greater athleticism and hand usage, but he has to continue to show it. The loss of rookie guard Rod Taylor may open up a potential roster spot, or confirm the team will roll with 8-9 players. Regardless, Fisher is someone who they want to take the next step, and even if he doesn’t grab hold of the starting spot, he’ll still more than likely finish out his contract in Cincinnati.
Roster odds: 85 percent