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Analyzing the Bengals taking Cordell Volson with the 136th pick

Depth at guard, or something more?

2020 NCAA Division I Football Championship Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The first offensive player to be drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals this year is North Dakota State offensive lineman Cordell Volson, just like we all expected.

Cincinnati is no stranger to picking linemen late in the fourth round. It’s where they drafted D’Ante Smith last year and traded up for Michael Jordan in 2019. Obviously, the results have varied, but you get the picture.

Volson was expected to go off the board sometime on Day 3, and he’s now the newest member of the Bengals. Let’s break down what they’re getting in him.

What Volson brings to the Bengals

What stands out first for Volson is size. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, he carries a lot of force in his blocks and gets out of his stance with haste.

He’s got heavy hands which allows him to use that force to generate movement in the run game. Among starters at the FBS and FCS level, Volson graded out in the top 20 for run blocking according to Pro Football Focus.

There is some context to that. Volson didn’t see the field as a starter until he was a 21-year-old redshirt junior.

His latest season was as a 23-year-old super senior, so he was basically a grown man mauling FCS defensive linemen. But production is production! And at the end of the fourth round, prospects who know what they’re doing on the field carry value.

During his six years in Fargo, Volson was primarily a right tackle during the school-record 65(!) career games he played in. He has ample experience on the edge, but his strengths and length make him a solid candidate to play guard, which is where the Bengals see him playing with them.

Why the Bengals drafted Volson

If you’re coming from an FCS program, you might as well be from NDSU.

The Bison have produced a good amount of NFL talent in recent years, including wide receiver Christian Watson, who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round. Volson was a part of four FCS championship teams from 2017-21.

There’s also a case that Volson would’ve been effective playing against better competition. He was PFF’s top-graded linemen at the East-West Shrine Game, in which he played left and right guard.

There’s not a ton of consistency when it comes to the Bengals and adding o-linemen, but being physical sure is one of them. Volson matches the kind of blocker o-line coach Frank Pollack desires. He seems to have an appetite for glass.

Volson will be 24 years old when training camp begins, and he’ll enter the battle for left guard with NFL-ready size, strength, and more experience than the average rookie linemen. If he doesn’t see the field early in his career, he can be a swing backup at both tackle and guard spots, which would give him a leg up on other reserves to dress on game days.

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