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Bengals’ offensive line higher than expected in updated rankings

Offseason moves have improved the Bengals’ line heading into 2021.

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NFL: JAN 03 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is no question that Joe Burrow was hit far too much last season, and that ultimately resulted in a torn left ACL and MCL in Week 11.

This sparked the main story for the Cincinnati Bengals heading into the offseason: How would they be able to improve their offensive line.

After months of discourse, the story culminated in the team choosing Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick over Penei Sewell. But despite them drafting a receiver in the first round instead of a lineman, the Bengals did make moves to upgrade their offensive line.

They replaced former offensive line coach Jim Turner with Frank Pollack, they signed former Pro Bowler Riley Reiff to play right tackle, and they drafted three offensive linemen in later rounds.

All of that should result in Burrow getting more time in the pocket, and Pro Football Focus seems to agree. The moves the Bengals made this offseason resulted in their offensive line being ranked 24th in PFF’s latest offensive line rankings.

Jonah Williams and Trey Hopkins holding down their spots at left tackle and center, respectively, are positives for the Bengals’ much-maligned unit up front. The additions of Reiff and second-round pick Jackson Carman should also contribute to their overall improvement. The true question revolves around which veteran will start at left guard.

Here’s what PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo had to say about that upcoming battle, and the overall state of the line:

“Left guard is a battle between Xavier Su’a-Filo, Quinton Spain and Michael Jordan. Spain has the best grading profile of the trio, though he’s a few years removed from his best work and has graded in the 50.0s in his two years with the Bengals. Either way, left guard looks like a weakness again for Cincinnati. The Bengals also added tackle D’Ante Smith and center Trey Hill in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively. It wasn’t exactly the offensive line overhaul Bengals fans expected, but they’re players who could pay dividends in a few years. Overall, Cincinnati has moved in the right direction on the offensive line, but they need better play from the interior trio.”

The Bengals did have arguably the worst guard play in the NFL last season. That said, the addition of Carman and hopefully a full season from one of Su’a-Filo or Spain should prove to be a major improvement.

As for the teams ranked behind the Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers came in at No. 29 and they didn’t address their line in the first round either. The Miami Dolphins came in at No. 30 and they also elected to pass on Sewell letting him fall to the Detroit Lions who were No. 10 on the list.

Finishing out the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line was ranked No. 1 overall and the Baltimore Ravens came in at No. 12.

You can check out PFF’s entire offensive line ranking here.