The offensive line of the Cincinnati Bengals has been undergoing massive change this offseason. After many deplorable performances last year, the team made significant moves to bolster their left tackle and center positions.
As it currently stands, the right side of the offensive line is completely up for grabs. Two disappointing tackles the team grabbed with its first two picks in the 2015 draft are hoping to make a name for themselves in a contract year at right tackle, while a lot of other unheralded names are attempting to grab the starting right guard job for 2018.
Ironically, it’s the other guard position that is employing the most reliable and potentially talented player of the entire offensive line. As long as Clint Boling stays healthy, this group will remain at least a halfway-strong point of the team’s roster.
Comings and goings:
Departures: Andre Smith (guard/tackle)
Additions: Rod Taylor (round 7, Injured Reserve)
Starters: Clint Boling, Trey Hopkins
Fighting for the right side: Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman, Trey Hopkins, T.J. Johnson
Johnson is a true center, but had some spot snaps at guard last year, while Redmond Westerman and Hopkins all appear to be guys the team likes in various capacities. As for Taylor, he’s on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in training camp. The hope is he’ll rebound in 2019 and compete for a spot then.
Though offensive guard often goes overlooked, in terms of importance to an NFL roster, the Bengals need as many quality starters on the line that they can get. Cordy Glenn should greatly help on the left side, while the hope is that Pollack can work some major magic at the other tackle spot with either Bobby Hart, Jake Fisher, or Cedric Ogbuehi.
Yes, the Bengals definitely want to get the passing game to an explosive level once again, but they should really be focusing on getting the running game on track. Aside from a great second half of the 2014 season from Jeremy Hill and a 1,000-yard campaign from Cedric Benson in 2011, Andy Dalton hasn’t had a truly reliable rushing attack to lean on for the first seven years of his NFL career.
Traditionally, the right side of an offensive line is more of the “power side”, so Pollack will want someone who can stand their ground and bring some much-needed nastiness to the group. Hopkins has the most experience in the group and took first-team reps in the first two preseason games, but Redmond started in the third preseason game.
This remains arguably the closest battle on the roster heading into the regular season.