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What’s the best configuration for the Bengals’ offensive line?

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There has been a lot of chatter about what Cincinnati’s alignment up front should be, based on so many new additions the past two offseasons. We look at a couple of best scenarios.

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You have to give the Cincinnati Bengals some credit for recognizing a problem and working pretty hard to fix it. After the offensive line struggled for a couple of seasons, as well as internalizing the observation that two former high picks weren’t working out, the team has embarked on a two-year rebuild of the unit.

Of course, any credit given in this regard has to also be tainted because of the allowance of the whole Kevin Zeitler/Andrew Whitworth exodus of 2017. Still, the investment of two first round picks (Billy Price and Jonah Williams) and two Day 3 picks (Rod Taylor and Michael Jordan), as well as the acquisition of six new veteran contracts for players (two from the outside), shows a solid re-commitment to righting the ship.

As the Zac Taylor era is officially kicking off with OTAs, some big news occurred in the form of a re-shuffling of the offensive line...again. The biggest news was is in Williams lining up as the starting left tackle, while Cordy Glenn, who manned that spot in 2018, got pushed inside to guard.

A sub-headline of the story was that veteran mainstay Clint Boling was out of the alignment. Now, it’s important to note that he’s healing up an injury, but even with the understandable absence, confusing smoke signals about the versatile lineman have been sent.

On this week’s episode of The Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast, John Sheeran and I discussed the best potential alignments of the unit for 2019. In doing so, there are obviously a number of factors to consider.

Politics: Yes, they exist in football too, folks. Whether it’s in handing starting spots immediately to the first-round picks of Williams and Billy Price, or in the continuing preference for Bobby Hart after a subpar 2018 season, hands can be forced. Cincinnati has invested high capital in these three players and they need to find out if they can carry the unit.

Continued career development: This is especially true in the case of both Hart and Price, as both didn’t have the strongest campaigns last year. However, Cincinnati holds the belief that both of these players will be critical to the success of the offense this year (which is true), as well as that they will reach their highest potential in 2019.

Turn on the tape—even if it’s from college: Many who have followed Price’s career note that he actually had some superior film as a guard, rather than a center at Ohio State. Meanwhile, Trey Hopkins showed a higher NFL value at center last year than Price in his spot starts, while inconsistency was shown at almost every other spot on the line in 2018.

Ironically, the Bengals drafted Price’s college replacement this year in Michael Jordan, who also played center and guard with the Buckeyes—but which spot is a better fit? And, of course, Glenn showed promise as both a tackle and guard at Georgia, so the Bengals are apparently trying to tap his college days.

Glenn’s comments about his meeting with Jim Turner: After the team drafted Williams, the new offensive line coach along with Zac Taylor had a couple of heart-to-hearts with Glenn. While part of what’s being appreciated with Taylor amongst his players is his honesty (John Ross III said the same recently about trade rumors), Glenn made it seem that his future with the club this year is at left guard, whether or not Boling is available.

Some possible alignments

There is a fine line to walk with what to do on the Bengals’ offensive line this year. After shuffling things up the past two seasons and apparently doing the same this offseason, cohesion has not been the name of the game. However, said cohesion is one of the most critical aspects in the success of any offensive line and will need to be built quickly if the Bengals are to be competitive in year one of the Taylor era.

So, is it wise to give the mantle of the most important position on the line to a rookie right away? Should the team swap out two or three starters from last year once again? Keep in mind that aside from trying to build cohesion, there is also the need for the new system to be digested from veterans of previous regimes.

The OTA formation:

Left tackle: Jonah Williams

Left guard: Cordy Glenn

Center: Billy Price

Right guard: John Miller

Right tackle: Bobby Hart

The “find a spot for Clint Boling” formation:

Left tackle: Jonah Williams

Left guard: Cordy Glenn

Center: Billy Price

Right guard: John Miller

Right tackle: Clint Boling

The “safe” formation:

Left tackle: Cordy Glenn

Left guard: Clint Boling

Center: Billy Price

Right guard: John Miller

Right tackle: Jonah Williams

The “mix-it-up” formation:

Left tackle: Clint Boling

Left guard: Cordy Glenn

Center: Trey Hopkins

Right guard: Billy Price

Right tackle: Jonah Williams

The “wild card” formation:

Left tackle: Jonah Williams

Left guard: Cordy Glenn

Center: Billy Price

Left guard: Michael Jordan

Right tackle: Bobby Hart

What is your ideal formation for the starters on the Bengals’ offensive line?

Also on this week’s episode:

  • What is the impact of Alex Redmond’s suspension? Is now on the outside looking in to a crowded position room?
  • What are the exact benefits of Gerald McCoy potentially signing with the Bengals?
  • How realistic is it that a top-tier defender like McCoy would sign with the Bengals, given the new staff and low expectations from the national media?

If you’re unable to join us live for here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube every episode, all Orange and Black Insider content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play Music apps, our YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! You can tweet us @BengalsOBI or get in touch with us via email at theobinsider@gmail.com. Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels!