For an undrafted free agent, becoming in a starter in the NFL is quite the milestone. Alex Redmond, who went undrafted out of UCLA in 2016, went from practice squad to backup to starter in only three years.
After paying his dues on the practice squad for a year, Redmond was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job at right guard in 2017. He lost out to fellow former UDFA and practice squad teammate, Trey Hopkins and remained a backup for most of the year. He did get a shot late in the season during some of the Bengals’ best offensive line performances of the year.
But Redmond’s defining characteristics are his aggression and intensity, so he attacked the right guard spot when competition opened back up in 2018. This time, he won the job and will trot out with the first team on Sunday in Indianapolis.
According to Paul Dehner Jr., the key to success is that “he’s found a way to harness his borderline crazy attitude without losing the edge.”
“Obviously, you can find a million guys that do what I do,” said Redmond. “But I feel like I try to out-physical my opponent every play. Even if that initial battle I’m going to be like, he got under my chest, I’m going to try to work and win that block. It helps me win a lot blocks that I necessarily didn’t start winning from the beginning.”
Clint Boling, who will be starting at left guard across from Redmond, wholeheartedly agrees.
“You are kind of dialing him back sometimes and that sort of thing,” Boling said. “Most of the time you are trying to get guys to play hard and that sort of thing. For him, it’s the opposite.”
Redmond played physically and intensely at UCLA, which is what attracted the Bengals to him in the first place. But they were unable to bring the best out of him in his first two seasons with the club, during which Paul Alexander was the Bengals’ offensive line coach. Everything changed when Frank Pollack entered the scene in January.
Former offensive line coach for the Cowboys, Pollack came to replace Alexander, who was fired after 23 years of coaching the offensive line in Cincinnati.
Apparently, Alexander was not a fan of Redmond’s style.
“My new offensive line coach absolutely loves it,” Redmond said. “He loves everything about the physicality of all that kind of stuff. I’ve had other coaches in the past tell me to be something I wasn’t and they’re gone now, thankfully.”
It’s pretty clear what Redmond means by “other coaches.” It’s probably not anyone from UCLA, where he started 13 games as a true freshman and declared for the draft after only three years.
Alexander, on the other hand, was far too laid-back for Redmond. His coaching style clashed with Redmond’s playing style, and the result sent Redmond to the practice squad and the bench.
But when Pollack came in, he brought a culture of intensity with him. He has been trying to get everyone on the offensive line to be more aggressive, but none have benefited more than Redmond. Pollack and and his new starting right guard are a perfect match.
“He’s shown consistency in his physicality, which is important. He’s shown a steadiness in understanding the things (Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack) is teaching up front,” Marvin Lewis said of Redmond on Wednesday. “He’s continued to grow, and you see a maturation of his whole personality. His physical upside is tremendous. We now just need to fine-tune the little things he may have struggled with from time to time.”
The right side of the offensive line is an area in which the Bengals are in desperate need of repair. If Pollack can get through to Redmond, the offense will be far superior to last year’s team that was plagued by the line.
“If you don’t play, it sinks in very quickly. These guys are here and want an opportunity to play,” Lewis said of Redmond. “You can’t play when that is getting in the way.”
The true test for Redmond will begin on Sunday against the Colts.