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Potential 2nd-round offensive line options for Bengals

There will still be quality offensive linemen for the Bengals to select after the first round of the draft. Here are the names to remember.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Alabama at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a debate consuming Bengals fans right now. I’ve taken the liberty to title it: Draft Penei Sewell or just throw Joe Burrow off a skyscraper.

Seriously though, there are some pretty ridiculous takes out there, and it’s obvious they’re derived from a deep distrust in the club’s ability to draft quality offensive linemen. That reputations is well earned, but this discussion involves two really good players who just happen to play different positions.

The two sides are well established. On one hand, the Bengals will have the opportunity to select the most-hyped offensive tackle in this year’s NFL draft in Sewell. A marriage between Sewell and Cincinnati has been talked about for several months now, and well-placed rumors explained the relationship was getting very serious. This was before the Bengals courted Riley Reiff with steaks and cigars, but acquiring a 32-year old Reiff on a one-year deal did not erase Sewell from the equation. The long-term need at right tackle persists.

On the other hand, the Reiff signing did alleviate the absolute necessity of getting a starting RT for the 2021 season. This has officially opened conversation for Ja’Marr Chase.

From the rumors of Joe Burrow promoting his former LSU running mate to the Bengals’ decision-makers, to multiple NFL insiders now leaning operating under the belief that Chase will be the pick at No. 5, it would be foolish to not treat Chase as an equally legitimate option with the fifth pick.

Now that free agency is through and both players have tested at their pro days, let’s operate under the assumption that Chase will be the pick at five and the Bengals don’t trade back into the first round. Everyone in the world will expect them to target an offensive lineman in the second round, so what could their options look like?

These 15 players will not all be available for the Bengals to draft with the 38th-overall pick. Perhaps around half of them will be available at that juncture. We do not know, and it’s futile to speculate just how many will or will not be there. But if you are so inclined, feel free to let me know in the comments which of these players will not be there. And for the sake of realism, I did not include Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, and obviously Sewell.

Let’s briefly examine them in chronological alphabetical order.

Jackson Carman, Clemson

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 317, ARM: 32.5”
  • 2021 age: 21

Coincidentally, our first player is a Cincinnati native. Carman opted to play for Clemson rather than Ohio State a few years back. Along with Trevor Lawrence, Carman started as a true freshman and helped Clemson reach three College Football Playoffs as well as winning one of them.

Carman is young, has plenty of experience against quality pass-rushers, and his noticeably quick and powerful for his size. His youth and lack of length, however, may cause concern in terms of his ability to survive at tackle out of the gate. Less than 33” arms may ultimately keep him at guard long-term anyways. Expect him to be drafted anytime on Day 2 of the draft.

Brady Christensen, BYU

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 302, ARM: 32.25”
  • 2021 age: Unknown

In terms of a schematic fit, Christensen is perfect for the Bengals. He’s arguably the best wide zone blocking tackle in this class and has the production to prove it. In 2020, nearly 70% of BYU’s running game featured zone concepts, and Christensen was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded offensive lineman for run blocking; not just out of offensive tackles, all offensive linemen.

Christensen isn’t too shabby in pass protection, either. He’s a fantastic athlete and has consistently quality tape. So when will he be drafted? Considering his lack of ideal arm length and his reported age of at least 23, NFL clubs may consider him as guard without a ton of upside. But if he lands in the right spot, he can become one of the best value picks from this draft.

Ben Cleveland, Georgia

  • Primary position: RG
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 354, ARM: 33”
  • 2021 age: 23

This might shock you if you’ve been grinding those mock draft simulators, but Cleveland could very much become like his former Georgia teammate Isaiah Wilson and “sneak” into the first round. Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting pegged him as a potential surprise first-round recently.

Whenever Cleveland goes off the board, he’ll be taking his enormous body and filling someone’s vacancy at right guard, the position he’s played for the last three-and-a-half seasons. He started out at right tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and moved to right guard in the middle of that year. He hasn’t allowed a sack since that season, either. Simply put, guys who are that big and run a 4.85 40-yard dash do not last long in the draft.

Samuel Cosmi, Texas

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 314, ARM: 33”
  • 2021 age: 22

There was a good argument for Cosmi to declare for the 2020 draft before he decided to return to Texas as a redshirt junior. He started at right tackle in 2018 before moving to left tackle from 2019-20 to finish his Longhorn career. In nearly 500 career true pass sets, he allowed just 23 pressures and rarely had a bad game.

Cosmi really put himself on everyone’s radar when he blazed a 4.84 40-yard dash at Texas’ pro day. He has the height, weight, and athletic profile to stay at tackle, but there are some who seem him being more successful as a guard. His 33” arm length certainly vindicates that evaluation. He may ultimately sneak into the first round, but uncertainty regarding where he should play may cause him to drop. Daniel Jeremiah didn’t even include him in his latest top 50 prospects list.

Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 322, ARM: 34.5”
  • 2021 age: 22

Speaking of Jeremiah’s list, Darrisaw was surprisingly low on it. Virginia Tech’s left tackle of the last three years came in at 36th, which has sparked some discussion as to whether or not the Bengals may be able to snag him in the second round.

Considering his build and production (PFF’s second-highest graded lineman in 2020), Darrisaw fits exactly who the Bengals should be looking for at offensive tackle. He excels at zone blocking and utilizes his length effectively. There are some concerns athletically with Darrisaw, and that might be why he falls a bit during the draft. If he makes it to the 38th pick, he’d be a no-brainer for Cincinnati.

Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

  • Primary position: RG
  • HT: 6’4”, WT: 315, ARM: 33.875”
  • 2021 age: 22

After Justin Fields, Davis will probably be the next Buckeye to go off the board. Entering the College Football Playoff, Davis was slated to be a first-round pick, and despite him saying that he’s “perfectly fine” after suffering a knee injury during the National Championship, the hype has died down a little for Davis. This may come back and haunt some o-line needy teams.

Make no mistake, Davis is not like the last Ohio State offensive lineman the Bengals drafted. Davis’ best attribute is his balance and hand-usage in pass protection, and PFF compares him to none other than Kevin Zeitler. As a two-year starter at right guard, the position the Bengals don’t have any natural player at, Davis is a prime second-round candidate for them.

Landon Dickerson, Alabama

  • Primary position: C
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 326, ARM: 32.5”
  • 2021 age: 23

Davis was not the only o-line prospect to suffer a knee injury late last season. Dickerson suffered a torn ACL in the SEC title game and—to everyone’s surprise—played the final snap in the National Championship game just a couple weeks later. Considering he was doing cartwheels at Alabama’s pro day, he seems to be doing alright. Toughness is just one of Dickerson’s many attributes; another one being versatile. Dickerson has taken a snap at every position on the offensive line during his five years in college.

Dickerson originally played for Florida State as a backup from 2016-18 and then transferred to Alabama, where he started at right guard and then finished at center. You want to know what a Frank Pollack lineman looks and plays like? Dickerson’s your guy. Just a consistently physical and dominant player than drives dudes out of gaps and stonewalls them in pass protection. In two years starting for Alabama, he allowed just six true pressures.

Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 306, ARM: 32.375”
  • 2021 age: 23

Unspectacular, yet effective; that’s the best way to describe Eichenberg’s game. Like most blockers who don the golden helmets at Notre Dame, Eichenberg is technically sound and offers a high-floor as a prospect. He was a three-year starter at left tackle, but a lack of high-end athleticism and arm length may cause concern for teams looking for talent at that specific position.

Those concerns are what will likely keep Eichenberg out of the first round and maybe even the top-50 picks altogether. Keep an eye on Eichenberg as this year’s Josh Jones, the offensive tackle who surprisingly fell all the way into the third round last year after being talked about as a first-round talent.

James Hudson, Cincinnati

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 313, ARM: 32.875”
  • 2021 age: 22

The hometown Bearcats aren’t known for producing offensive linemen, but Hudson wasn’t recruited by Cincinnati. As a transfer from Michigan, Hudson started just one year for the Bearcats on their way to a Peach Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, Hudson was ejected from that game after committing a personal foul right before halftime.

A few weeks later, Hudson showed out at the Senior Bowl and top-40 buzz became to generate. That all may’ve died down after a lackluster pro day showing, but Hudson is still an intriguing prospect with potential still waiting to be unlocked as an athletic pass-blocker. Like most o-linemen in this class, his arm length may drop him.

Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

  • Primary position: C
  • HT: 6’4”, WT: 312, ARM: 31.75”
  • 2021 age: 23

Humphrey was a three-year starter at center for Oklahoma, but his athletic profile indicates he absolutely could play at guard. He wowed NFL personnel at his pro day with incredible vertical (33”) and broad (112”) jumps, placing him above the 90th percentile for each of them.

In terms of strength and athleticism, Humphrey has you covered. He wasn’t challenged much at Oklahoma and struggled against the occasional NFL talent he did face, but when placed in the right system under the right coach, he’s someone you take a chance on early in the draft.

Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

  • Primary position: RT
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 317, ARM: 33.5”
  • 2021 age: 23

It’s unclear when the talk about Jenkins really started to begin, but it has culminated into him being a virtual lock for the first round. Like Humphrey, Jenkins didn’t face much competition in the Big 12, but it’s impossible to deny his play strength. Jenkins showcases tenacity and power in his hands and frame that make some of his reps so dominant. He finished 2020 with PFF’s third-highest run blocking grade (93.6)

Versatility is also on Jenkins’ side. He started his career at Oklahoma State as a reserve and played both guard spots and right tackle as a freshman in 2017. He became the starter at right tackle in 2018, but he did start a handful of games at left tackle in his final three years. Knowing all of that when watching his most recent tape, it’s no wonder why some team in the first round is going to take a chance on him. But there’s always a chance he falls just far enough. Maybe the Bengals can pounce.

Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 312, ARM: 34.375”
  • 2021 age: 22

During Jonah Williams’ final year at Alabama, Leatherwood was a true sophomore starting at right guard. But with his size and athleticism, a move to left tackle was imminent once Williams left for the NFL. After two years of starting experience blocking for Tua Tagovailoa, Leatherwood decided to forego the chance of becoming a high draft pick and return to Tuscaloosa in 2020.

Leatherwood should still hear his name called relatively early in the draft, yet despite measuring in with 34” arms, some say he is best suited to be a guard. Like Cosmi, Leatherwood did not make Jeremiah’s top 50 list, and he could be a victim of a really good overall offensive line class. A team like the Bengals, who need an athletic right guard for right now and a right tackle for the long-term, should be very interested in Leatherwood in the second round.

Walker Little, Stanford

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’6”, WT: 317, ARM: 33.5”
  • 2021 age: 23

In the same recruiting class that featured Chase Young, Jeff Okuduh, Alex Leatherwood, and Devonta Smith, Little was ranked higher than all of them. But there’s a reason why you haven’t heard much of Little recently; he hasn’t played football in a minute.

The last time we saw Little on the field was August 31st, 2019. A knee injury took him out of the remainder of the 2019 season. He then opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns of COVID-19, like his PAC-12 counterpart in Sewell, but so much of who Little is as a prospect is projection. He tested very athletic at his pro day (7.44 three-cone, 4.59 short shuttle), so the raw tools are still there. It’s the lack of recent tape that has his draft projection up in the air. Top of the second round may be the highest he gets picked.

Jaylen Mayfield, Michigan

  • Primary position: RT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 326, ARM: 32.625”
  • 2021 age: 21

It’s not always you see a redshirt sophomore coming off an injury-riddled season declare for the draft, but that’s exactly what Mayfield did. Before injuries limited him to just two games last season, Mayfield continued to improve upon what he did in his year starting at right tackle in 2019. He plays with a natural power and is already pretty damn big for being just 20 years old.

If you haven’t noticed by now, arm length is an unfortunate trend with this year’s class of linemen. Mayfield measured in with sub 33” arms and already had an athletic profile better suited for guard. But the Bengals love young prospects who’ve already filled out their frame, and Mayfield would make for a great long-term option at right guard. Expect to hear his name called between picks 25-50.

Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State

  • Primary position: LT
  • HT: 6’5”, WT: 304, ARM: 33.25”
  • 2021 age: 23

Finally, we get to Radunz, the lone FCS player on the list. Good luck finding past Bengals draft picks from non-FBS programs, but Radunz proved he belonged against real competition at the Senior Bowl. And that matters to the Bengals. He’s a fantastic athlete, but he doesn’t play soft. He will bury dudes when given the chance.

While he certainly has the quickness to stay at tackle, the position he exclusively played at NDSU, teams may view him as a guard based on his size and lack of experience against top talent. But, again, that’s fine for a team like the Bengals. They can start him at guard and see if he’s ready to move to tackle next year.