The Cincinnati Bengals returned to their old ways and took a deal to move back in the second round. And after picking up a couple fourth-round picks, they saw Cincinnati native Means Cameron announce another Cincinnati native as the 46th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jackson Carman, born and raised in Fairfield, Ohio, is the latest offensive lineman the Bengals have selected with a premium pick. Carman was heavily recruited out of Fairfield High School and ultimately chose Clemson over Ohio State. Now, he’s coming back home for the foreseeable future.
What Carman brings to the Bengals
It’s hard to go under the radar when you’re the left tackle of a college football powerhouse, but that’s what happened with Carman.
When he was healthy (played the last five games of 2020 with a herniated disk), Carman showed signs of development as a 20-year old junior. He’s a big-bodied blocker who carries his weight extremely well. He played at about 330 pounds, and moved like he was 300 pounds. Carman has oodles of natural power. He generates movement without exhibiting much effort. And when out in space, Carman is a force player for how quick he can move at his size.
It’s fun watching Carman in the run game, but we should also note he’s at a really good place with his understanding in pass protection. Carman understands playing with leverage in his sets, and while misses sometimes and gets out over his hips, he has the ability to use his hands independently. And that’s important with his 32.5” arms.
Carman has tackle experience, but he’s ideally a guard at the next level. And that’s exactly what the Bengals need right now. He can bring power and explosiveness with an adept knowledge of pass protection to either guard spot in 2021 and beyond.
Why the Bengals picked Carman
To reiterate, the Bengals have a dire need at guard, and Carman has a good chance of becoming a solid one. They have a couple veterans he can learn from, and they have one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL to help him along the way.
There’s an advantage to investing in youth as well. Carman turned 21 this past January, and it’s entirely possible he isn’t done developing as an athlete. He surely is capable of playing more consistent football. The Bengals may have to deal with some growing pains this year, but by the time Carman is eligible for a second contract, he can easily be the best version of himself. There’s value to that when you have a good coach to teach him up.
The Bengals had options at both the 38th and 46th picks. They could’ve went with a plethora of other o-linemen, some were more ready to play right now, some were more athletically limited, and some were a few years older. Carman is a bet on upside with enough positive information to back up the investment.
It also doesn’t hurt that Bengals legend Willie Anderson and former offensive line coach Paul Alexander has worked with him, and both have praised him as a player and person. Did we mention he grew up idolizing Anthony Munoz, and was nominated for the Anthony Munoz award in high school?
Until we see Carman on the field, preferably starting at guard as soon as possible, Carman will remain a projection more than a known commodity. But the Bengals took a swing at offensive line early in the draft. It’ll be fun to see if it pays off.