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2018 Bengals position review: Offensive line

The Bengals offensive line has been a need for years, could 2019 be the year that they finally shore it up?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. No phrase better describes the Bengals’ offensive line from the 2018 season and its transition from their infamous 2017 campaign.

From a macro perspective, the group showed marginal improvement in key areas from the prior season. With four new starters playing under a new offensive line coach, their progress should be recognized. But the Bengals offensive line is still very much a work in progress heading into 2019. Here’s how the unit looks right now.

Key players:

  • Cordy Glenn
  • Clint Boling
  • Billy Price
  • Christian Westerman
  • Trey Hopkins
  • Bobby Hart
  • Alex Redmond

2019 potential free agents:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Jake Fisher
  • Bobby Hart
  • Andre Smith

2018 Summary

The Bengals made a surprisingly big move last offseason by trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn. While Glenn proved to be a monumental upgrade over 2017 starter Cedric Ogbuehi, his arrival was not enough to turn things around altogether.

Cincinnati also acquired Bobby Hart, and seemed to think that was enough to leave the right tackle position alone. Hart was predictably bad and those behind him and Glenn on the depth chart proved to be more of the same. Jake Fisher has had a tough go do to health concerns, but looked at least serviceable when called upon in 2018. Ogbuehi was a sieve as usual when he saw the field.

Left guard Clint Boling is the best player on the offensive line and it showed in 2018. Right guard however was a big problem. There were three options heading into camp as potential starters at the position: Alex Redmond, Trey Hopkins, and Christian Westerman, Redmond is not what you would call “good at football” and the Bengals starting him next two Bobby Hart created an incredible weak right side to their offensive line.

Westerman was a fan favorite, but the Bengals refused to play him on the right side for the majority of the season. Instead, he was relegated to backing up Boling on the left side. Much like the 2017 season, when Westerman got a chance, he looked good.

Even Hopkins would have been a better option than Redmond at right guard, but ended up starting much of the season at center. Hopkins is a work horse and has played well in just about any situation he has been put in. The Bengals had planned on starting rookie center Billy Price, but he missed time due to injury. When he did see the field he struggled, both with his snaps and his blocking.

2019 Outlook and Need

Glenn was a big improvement and solidified the left tackle position, but right tackle still a major concern. Out of the four tackles entering free agency, Fisher would’ve been the one worth keeping around, but now Fisher is working on becoming a blocking tight end. How they handle maintaining some stability at that position will be very interesting. They should look to use a high-round draft pick on the position, especially if they don’t bring in an established veteran from free agency.

Boling in the most stable player on the line and the team should be all set at the left guard position. Hopefully a new coaching staff — including the club’s third offensive line coach in as many seasons — will give Westerman a chance to earn the right guard position. Going into training camp, he will have to compete with Redmond once more.

Cincinnati was smart to place a second-round tender on Hopkins, who should be staying in town because of it. Hopkins who would be solid option at right guard, but some would rather have see him start at center. If that was the case, Price might be able to play guard as he did early his college career. They could afford to add an established veteran or early round pick at guard, particularly if they lose Hopkins in free agency.