The Bengals entered the 2021 offseason knowing that improving their offensive line would have to be a top priority. Still, we haven’t seen the franchise show much in the way of urgency to fix that issue via free agency. Replacing the recently cut Bobby Hart with Riley Reiff was a good start, but outside of that there hasn’t been many personnel moves to help create competition.
It is assumed that Cincinnati will have to use at least one of their first three picks to help add long-term solutions on the offensive line, and that is where Christian Darrisaw could come in.
School: Virginia Tech
Position: Left tackle
Weight: 322 pounds
Projected Round: Mid-First/Early-Second
Darrisaw is a very interesting prospect in the 2021 NFL draft. He was the second ranked tackle in 2021 according to Pro Football Focus, and he was seen to be in the conversation as a top three tackle after Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater.
As we get closer to the draft the hype around the Virginia Tech tackle has started to die down, and he has been ranked lower and lower on some draft expert’s big boards. That has opened up the conversation of Darrisaw being there for Cincinnati in the second round.
Starting with the good, Darrisaw is a great technician, and he always seems to be in the right position. He has the ideal build of a tackle, long arms and the quickness to get to his spot even around faster defenders. On paper, he is exactly what most NFL teams should be looking for.
So why are their rumors of him sliding? There is a larger consensus growing that Darrisaw has too nonchalant of an approach for an offensive tackle. He makes everything look so easy, and he rarely looks like he is making that extra effort. Some experts have also said he lacks that mean streak to finish off reps with pancakes or will let pass rushers off the hook by not finishing reps after early wins.
The question may be if a coaching staff believes they can get him to push it into that next gear in the NFL. He will be facing plenty of relentless pass rushers who will feast off that mentality. However, if he starts to fight through the whistle he could be a longtime starter for any franchise.
Fit with the Bengals
This needs to be prefaced that Darrisaw shouldn’t be considered with the fifth-overall pick. There are obviously better option there. Darrisaw enters the conversation if Cincinnati moves back into the teens closer to the 20’s or if this very talented player somehow falls to the Bengals in the second round.
If Darrisaw ends up in Cincinnati it brings up a great question of what to do on the offensive line. Jonah Williams may be the only certainty by staying at left tackle. The new rookie would likely either play at right tackle or one of the guard positions (probably right) to start his career. Some will argue that it would be a waste of a year of development to have your long-term solution at tackle slide inside, but at the end of the day getting the best starting five in their best positions would end up being the best for the offense and Joe Burrow in 2021.
Cincinnati would now have concrete answers at three positions on the offensive line next season with Williams, Reiff and Darrisaw. The only questions would be who will possibly be filling in for the injured Trey Hopkins and who wins the second starting guard position between Quinton Spain and Xavier Su’a-Filo.
No one offensive linemen that the Bengals select in this year’s draft will fix the offensive line issues for this team, but Darrisaw would be a great start.