The Bengals added a player who filled one of their clear needs coming into the draft with their first pick.
When they selected Jonah Williams out of Alabama, it felt like Cincinnati finally added that cornerstone of the offensive line that they’ve needed since Andrew Whitworth left in free agency.
It comes as no surprise that the Bengals ending up with one of the most talented offensive linemen in the draft was popular among draft analysts. Here is what they had to say about the pick:
The National Championship Game against Alabama was overblown. He did some good things against Clelin Ferrell. He’s a plug and play. The best part of this pick is it gets the spinning top off the field in Bobby Hart, who will no longer be the right tackle in Cincinnati. He’ll be a consistent starter in the National Football League.
Many think that Williams can play guard or tackle in the NFL, which is good because the Bengals need help at both spots. Williams predominantly played left tackle at Alabama, but with Cordy Glenn that is one of just two stable positions along Cincy’s front five (the other is center, which is occupied by last year’s first-rounder Billy Price). So expect Williams to first get a crack at guard. Incumbent left guard Clint Boling and right guard John Miller are both fringe starters, if not merely quality backups. Which means its entirely possible Williams could play right tackle, which is currently manned by Bobby Hart, who is susceptible to the bull rush. Wherever Williams plays, this pick asserts that the Bengals remain committed to Andy Dalton. Not only did they leave Dwayne Haskins on the board, but they took a blocker, which Dalton, who is inconsistent in messy pockets, relies on more than most QBs.
Cincinnati desperately needed help at offensive tackle, and Williams proved he can handle playing on the left or right side at Alabama. With both of the top inside linebackers off the board, this pick made a whole lot of sense. Just a solid pick.
The Bengals ranked 21st in blitz downs success rate, 19th in blitz downs sack rate, and 19th in third-and-long success rate. They could use help at offensive tackle, and while I’ve seen a wide range of evaluations of Williams, he’s a three-year starter at Alabama, and he’s probably the steadiest tackle in the draft at the very least.
There may be bigger needs elsewhere, but I love the value here. Williams started as a freshman, has experience at both tackle spots, and could even start at guard. He’s the best tackle in the draft, which makes him a bargain outside the top 10.
Pro Football Focus: Ranked Williams as fourth best player
Reason prevailed with Jonah Williams’ short arms; he was quite comfortably the top tackle prospect in this draft. Williams has history at both left and right tackle while grading out dominantly as a 21-year-old playing in the SEC. Yes, his 33 ⅝” arms and change of direction testing aren’t ideal for the position, but I’ll bet on a guy with his career trajectory and work ethic. The man keeps excel spreadsheets on all his opponents for goodness sake!
This is a home run for Cincinnati. Williams is a dependable technician and plug-and-play starter with the potential to be a Pro Bowler at any spot on the offensive line. The 2018 first-team AP All-American has light feet and excellent balance, is rarely caught leaning or lunging at an opponent, and controls opposing rushers well with the timing of his punch. In the run game, he’s a powerful down blocker and positions himself well to seal off defenders. For a team like the Bengals that badly need to upgrade multiple spots on their line, that Williams fell to this spot is a dream come true. He’s my no. 4 overall player.