When you think of the best Bengals’ offensive linemen in team history, Willie Anderson is in the top-two or three for almost every Bengals fan. Manning the right side of Cincinnati’s line for 12 years, Anderson was one of the best draft picks the franchise has ever made and was criminally underrated for his era.
It only made sense that one of the best Bengals’ linemen in team history chimed in on the team’s two exciting draft picks on the offensive line. Anderson joined us on this week’s Orange and Black Insider podcast episode and told us that he likes what he sees from both Jonah Williams and Michael Jordan.
“I think so,” Anderson said about Williams’ ability to play left or right tackle right away for the Bengals. “If you noticed on Twitter I obviously follow a lot of SEC football Twitter accounts. I’ve been raving about Jonah all season. I’ve spoken to Jonah through social media, I’m real cool with his former offensive line coach, Brent Key, who’s now at Georgia Tech—my son plays at Georgia Tech, so I see coach Key a lot. I know what coach Key teaches...and I’ve had the chance to see Jonah through those techniques, and he’s done very well.”
Later in the interview, Anderson talked about his post-NFL professional endeavor, which is teaching younger generations of football players the nuances of the offensive line. The reason we bring this up here is because it’s obvious that Anderson is still a tape guy and a continual student of the game. As he continued his assessment of Williams, he relied on his experiences, contacts and film study to note that the No. 11 overall pick is going to be the next great Bengals tackle.
“I argued on Twitter with anyone who said ‘Man, he’s (Williams) going to be a guard,’” Anderson continued. “Like, man, this guy played left tackle in the SEC, blocking NFL guys...Playing left tackle and blocking guys well week-in, week-out for three years and starting at Alabama. So, I think he’s proven he can play tackle. I’m not big on necessarily pegging people as right or left tackle (right away), but playing tackle in the NFL is huge because every team has rushers that can come from everywhere. So, you better have good guards, and you better damn sure have two good tackles, and I think Jonah is going to prove the Bengals right.”
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had Williams more pegged as a guard, but the Bengals had their first-round pick lining up at left tackle during their recent rookie minicamp. Jeremiah used Williams’ shorter arms and other reasons as to why he thinks he’d be a better NFL fit as an interior player. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. had a little more faith in Williams as an NFL tackle, but also harped on his potential of being a Pro Bowl guard.
It’s unclear just how the line will be constructed, in terms of Week 1 starters, but one is inclined to believe that the No. 11 overall pick is one of the five best linemen they currently have on the roster. Common beliefs are that Williams will push Cordy Glenn and/or Bobby Hart for their respective starting tackle positions this year.
Cincinnati continued its offensive line overhaul from the past two offseasons in the form of Jordan, their 2019 fourth-round selection. The Bengals moved up to grab him, as pundits love his athleticism and versatility.
“As I told you guys earlier, I train kids like Paris Johnson, Jr., who’s an Ohio State commit and No. 1 offensive lineman in the country...Paris’ mom called me right before the Combine about the kid, Michael Jordan,” Anderson said of the Bengals’ fourth-round pick. “His (Jordan’s) dad wanted to catch up with me and train with us—we never got the chance to put it together—but, it was ironic that the Bengals picked him. I watched him as a dominant player at Ohio State, and I hope I get the chance to work with him.”
The picks of Williams and Jordan are throwing the offensive line’s starting lineup into question, as both have tremendous upside. Ironically, Jordan took over at center for the Buckeyes last year after Billy Price was selected by the Bengals in the first round of last year’s draft. Jordan could take over the starting left guard spot, which is where he played while Price was with Ohio State, as Clint Boling enters his ninth season in 2019.
Also, on the interview:
- Anderson gave his thoughts on Drew Sample, whom he announced as the team’s second-round pick a few weeks ago.
- Interestingly enough, it was Marvin Lewis who worked with Anderson and the Bengals to coordinate his NFL Draft appearance in Nashville.
- The former Pro Bowl offensive lineman looked back at his time with Marvin Lewis, as well as ahead to what Zac Taylor has been building.
- Anderson talked about his linemen camps, as well as some promising college players he has been working with.
Our thanks to “Big Willie” for joining us. Go check out what he’s doing at these sites, including one being a collaboration with former Bengals offensive line coach, Paul Alexander:
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