The Cincinnati Bengals brought in Zac Taylor to be an offense-minded coach following the long tenure of Marvin Lewis. It’s the first time for the organization to get a fresh perspective in the better part of two decades, and that new set of eyes can certainly be valuable.
Evidently, one of the first things Taylor’s eyes turned to was not the fancy playmaking weapons, but rather the trenches, as the Bengals used their first-round draft pick on an offensive tackle. In fact, three of their 10 draft picks were either offensive or defensive linemen, and area in which they clearly would like to improve.
This is in fact the second consecutive year in which they drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, having selected Ohio State center Billy Price last year. While he started, he dealt with a lot of injuries during his rookie season and so did not have the opportunity to a big impact.
During free agency last season, the Bengals traded I believe a third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for tackle Cordy Glenn, who provided a serviceable option at left tackle last season following the failure of the 2015 NFL Draft in which they whiffed on tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher in the first two rounds.
They settled on Bobby Hart ultimately starting at right tackle last season, who was one of the worse full-time starters at the position, and they re-signed him this year for lack of a more viable alternative at an affordable price.
But now he can be challenged by first-round pick Jonah Williams, a 6’4” tackle out of Alabama. Williams has experienced starting at both left and right tackle at the college level, so it’s possible that he can even start on the left side and move Glenn to the right.
Cincinnati doubled dipped along the offensive line in the fourth round with Michael Jordan, a former teammate of Price’s at Ohio State. Though a rookie mid-round pick, he could challenge Alex Redmond and Trey Hopkins for a starting spot at right guard, as this is their other biggest area of weakness.
Shoring up the offensive line, as the Pittsburgh Steelers well know, is a key part of ensuring offensive success. Andy Dalton’s best seasons came when the Bengals had a strong presence in the trenches including Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, and Kevin Zeitler.
Not to be ignored, they also got good value in the fourth rounds at defensive tackle with Renell Wren, who can work in alongside Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings. I think Wren is a name that some Steelers fans had on their radar, so now you get to see him twice a year, along with William Jackson III.