The Bengals have been awfully busy replacing their usual private workouts with FaceTimes. One recent interaction was with former Indiana guard Simon Stepaniak.
Former #iufb offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak said he had a FaceTime meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Also has recently spoken with 49ers, Dolphins and Bengals recently in advance of the NFL draft.— KevinBrockwayCNHIIndiana (@KevinBrockwayG1) March 31, 2020
Stepaniak would likely be a Day 3 addition for the Bengals. He has all the grit you would want to see in an offensive lineman. He finishes blocks with authority. One of his most impressive traits is keeping his eyes out and always looking for action. Whether that is helping on a double team in pass protection, catching a twisting defender or working his way up to the next level, Stepaniak is always looking to contribute on a play.
This is still a fairly unrefined prospect though. Obviously with most Day 3 picks, you aren’t getting an instant starter, but many of Stepaniak’s deficiencies are fixable aside from his lack of length.
Despite having a strong upper body (37 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine), he struggles with bull rushers, which is only going to become more of a problem at the NFL level if he doesn’t fix how high his stance can get. He also isn’t great at recovering on blocks. He rarely has a second pop after getting pushed back on a run block, and he lacks the burst the catch up if he gets beat with speed on a pass rush.
This is a guy who you can work out a few technical issues with, and end up with a pretty decent NFL guard. He isn’t going to go on to Pro Bowls or make you comfortable penciling him in as the starter, but he could become a very nice depth player with the ability to play either right or left guard.
If Cincinnati did draft Stepaniak, he would likely be a practice squad candidate his first season (depending on how many other offensive linemen the team drafts or gets rid of). The current state of the guard position includes Billy Price (who may be the most likely to get dealt during the draft), Michael Jordan, Alex Redmond and recently signed Xavier Su’a-Filo. The team would also be more comfortable with either Fred Johnson or Bobby Hart kicking inside if it came down to it.
It is a good sign that the Bengals are showing interest in offensive linemen given how poorly the unit performed last season. You can look at the injuries they endure, or you can look at how poorly their backups performed. It is clear that some change is needed, and Stepaniak could be a nice pick for Cincinnati in a year or two.