Nov 17, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive linesman Kyle Long (74) blocks as running back Kenjon Barner (24) runs the ball against the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
As the Cincinnati Bengals gear up for the 2013 NFL Draft and the upcoming Scouting Combine, many positions are hot on fans’ minds. Running back, defensive end, linebacker and safety are hot button topics, and for good reason. All need a healthy injection of youth and talent, preferably a large helping of both.
But nobody is discussing offensive linemen, and also rightfully so. The Bengals’ offensive line may have had its ups and downs, but was still undoubtedly the most consistently high-performing unit on the team. Still, three reasons beg the discussion of drafting a prospect on the second or third day, specifically Oregon’s Kyle Long, son of Howie and brother of Chris Long, defensive end for the St. Louis Rams.
First of all, the Bengals habitually draft linemen. I, for one, like the idea of taking a developmental lineman every year, like Ron Wolf annually drafting a quarterback. That is how Andrew Whitworth came to be the most underrated left tackle in the NFL. Like Ron Wolf annually drafting a quarterback, it is wise to try to develop franchise tackles because they rarely hit the market.
Secondly, offensive line coach Paul Alexander has a soft spot for linemen that can play multiple positions. Long played left guard and left tackle at Oregon in 2012.
Lastly, the Bengals have a soft spot for players with a pedigree at a good price. Look at the stockpiling of former first-rounders as reclamation projects. Long has a pedigree from a football family with a Hall-of-Fame father, who also happens to be one of the few tolerable talking heads on Fox’s pregame show, and his brother Chris has began to blossom into one of the better left defensive ends in the league under Jeff Fisher.
And the bargain? Long only played one year at Oregon after he left Florida State and then spent time in the JUCO circuit.