The future at both tackle spots for the Cincinnati Bengals is unknown entering the 2023 offseason. When it comes to Jonah Williams’ present, there’s not as much ambiguity.
Cincinnati’s left tackle is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan doesn’t foresee Williams moving to another spot on the offensive line, specifically to right tackle.
“Moving him would probably be pretty difficult,” Callahan said of Williams at the NFL combine. “It’s probably not something that he would be necessarily excited about either. I’m sure as a team-first guy he would do it if that’s what was best for us, but it’s a hard switch to make for a guy who’s played a lot of snaps at left tackle over his career.”
A switch for Williams has been a topic of conversation amongst Bengals fans for the last two years, and it hasn’t dissipated with the offensive line potentially gearing up for further additions this offseason. The former 11th overall pick is coming off middling 2022 season wherein he played the majority of the year with a dislocated kneecap.
Callahan did mention that Williams gained right tackle experience while playing for Alabama years ago, but he has exclusively been repping on the left side ever since being drafted in 2019. A transition at this stage may not benefit him or the Bengals as a whole.
There was a time when this was achievable. Williams missed his entire rookie season due to injury and made his first start in 2020. If the Bengals ever wanted Williams as a right tackle, developing him at that spot before he took his first snap was the time to do it. The muscle memory would’ve been much fresher from his freshman year in 2016, when he started the entire season at right tackle for the Crimson Tide.
But they didn’t, and he’s been at left tackle ever since.
While Callahan didn’t explicitly rule out a move to left guard for Williams, we can also nix that with a good degree of confidence. The technique for playing inside is also vastly different compared to tackle, and expecting Williams to improve overall as a blocker there just isn’t realistic.
For the fourth-straight year, expect the Bengals to stick with Williams at left tackle.
#Bengals OC Brian Callahan doesn’t envision a scenario where Jonah Williams switches from left tackle to right tackle pic.twitter.com/IkUA4cJERK— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) March 1, 2023