The Cincinnati Bengals had fans shaking heads in 2021 when they seemingly reached for offensive lineman Jackson Carman in the second round. Carman had a rough rookie season when he started six games, and he wasn’t much better this past season overall.
Now, the Bengals may be preparing to try and take a step with that investment by having him battle for the right tackle spot, according to some of his coaches.
“He could be the right tackle. Absolutely. He’s in the mix,” offensive line coach Frank Pollack told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “He’s definitely in the mix. Hopefully, L.C. can make it back in time and who knows how the offseason plays out, but we’ve got to prepare to have a guy ready and Jackson’s a guy in the mix.
“He certainly did some good things those last two games that he played. I’d say he is certainly in the mix to compete. I’m really excited about his progress and what he did last year, especially with some of the adversity he experienced early in his career. It really showed kind of the mental toughness that he’s got, and real excited about him moving forward.”
The praise didn’t just come from his positional coach. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan also talked up Jackson.
“We’ve always felt like Jackson is capable,” said Brian Callahan. “He’s grown up a ton. He’s done a lot of things better. We really felt good about what he put on tape against Buffalo. There are some things he can clean up technically and all that stuff. Not a complete player by any stretch but we really felt good about where he was at. I’m excited about his trajectory.”
This past postseason Jackson had a surge of people talking about him when he replaced an injured Jonah Williams at left tackle in the Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens. The following week, he played well against the Buffalo Bills and played very well.
However, it has to be said it was an extremely strong snowstorm that really covered Jackson’s issues of having to deal with speed rushers. The following week against the Kansas City Chiefs he did not fair as well, but the entire offensive line had issues that week.
This could all be smoke to cover up the idea that the team is looking at tackle prospects. The coaches also don’t seem to rule out the idea of signing a tackle this offseason to help fill the hole.
The problem with discussing Jackson is similar to when the team had Bobby Hart. Having a Jackson or Hart on your team isn’t bad from the perspective they can come in and play guard or tackle from the bench. The problem is when you write them in as a starter without bringing in competition.
Fortunately, the team also has Hakeem Adeniji who can possibly play tackle, and La’el Collins coming off his injury. Adding a different face to the bunch wouldn’t be a bad move either, though.