The Cincinnati Bengals know that one of their biggest problems is to fix their offensive line. The last time they made the postseason—four years ago—they had one of the best offensive lines in the league before they started losing players like Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler and replacing them with the likes of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, two high draft picks who are no longer with the team.
They started an overhaul process last offseason by acquiring former first-round draft pick Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a third-round pick. They also drafted center Billy Price in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
While they failed to make any key additions in free agency, they did re-sign Bobby Hart, and they drafted two linemen in the first four rounds, including another first-round selection, this time on tackle Jonah Williams. They added Michael Jordan in the fourth round.
What does that all mean? Where will everybody play? For the moment, “nobody knows”, according to Glenn, who has spent the majority of his career at left tackle but has some (now-ancient) history at guard as well, and which they may consider for him if it gives the Bengals their best starting five.
It could, in theory, depending on how well the rookie Williams and the veteran Hart play. Hart has historically strived to reach a basic level of mediocrity, but the coaches believe that they can get more out of him with a full offseason of work.
Williams is capable of playing both inside and outside, as well. Really, Hart can, too, so their three tackle prospects all have the potential to start at guard. That may be the case. The two interior positions that should already be locked up would be Price at center and veteran Clint Boling at left guard. Right guard could very much be up for grabs.
The first step toward fixing a problem is getting the pieces together that you need to solve the puzzle. You can start putting it together once you have everything. The Bengals believe they may now have their starting five, if only they can figure out where they should all go.
New head coach Zac Taylor said that he would like to solve that equation “sooner rather than later” but offered that they have the month of May to do so. That may not be a realistic timetable, however, considering that players don’t even put pads on until training camp, and linemen are notoriously difficult evaluations playing in shells.