There are many who believe the Cincinnati Bengals will use an early round draft pick addressing the offensive line. After losing Anthony Collins, they are short one contributor, and they dealt with injuries in 2013, so it certainly makes sense. The question is whether they prefer to take a tackle or a guard. There are arguments for either position.
The Bengals have two solid starters in Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. When they’re healthy, they’re as good a duo as can be found in the league. However, last season, injuries forced Whitworth inside and Collins stepped in at left tackle. Now, with Collins playing in Tampa, the team could use backup of that quality. There’s also a question of Whitworth’s age. He’s now 32, and though that doesn’t mean he’s over the hill, it does mean the team could be ready to look for his eventual replacement. They could also shift Whitworth inside and extend his career. The Bengals could also feel comfortable with what they have inside. Kevin Zeitler is a budding star at guard and Clint Boling played very well before he was injured. Marshall Newhouse was also signed this offseason, adding depth and a starting option. Tackle could be the right way to go.
Last season, the Bengals suffered injuries along the line, especially at guard, that drastically affected the team. Dalton was hindered by pressure up the middle, and the need at guard was pressing. The team could see the tenuous situation inside and decide to address things there. Zeitler is certainly set at right guard, but Boling isn’t established and Newhouse is still a question mark. Meanwhile, their best backup, Mike Pollak, might be starting at center, leaving even more need for an addition. Also, while the team did lose Collins, they are high on Tanner Hawkinson, who could see some time this year. Whitworth has shown that he is still capable of playing at a high level too. Guard certainly makes sense.
There’s no real wrong answer, as adding a talented player is always good, regardless of the position. The Bengals look like they’ll have a solid line overall, if they can avoid the injury bug that plagued them last season. In the end, the fact is, if they hit a homerun at tackle, it has a bigger impact on the offense. A dominant left tackle is a quarterback’s best friend, and one of the most important positions on the field. Whitworth’s versatility also makes it an even better decision. For that reason, if the Bengals are deciding between tackle and guard, the right choice is at tackle.