Cincinnati Bengals Draft Targets: Offensive Tackle
By Vance Meek
Dec 28, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Taylor Lewan (77) during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive line has been an area of relative strength for the Cincinnati Bengals in recent years, particularly the tackle spots. Andrew Whitworth has been a stalwart at left tackle and Andre Smith has, for the most part, developed into a very good right tackle. Injuries forced Whitworth inside to guard last season and Anthony Collins stepped in and seamlessly took over the left side. However, Collins left via free agency this offseason and, with Whitworth another year older, the Bengals may look to the draft, and possibly early on, to add talent at tackle. Here are some possibilities.
1. Taylor Lewan: Lewan was a potential top ten pick a year ago, but decided to return to Michigan. Now, off-field questions, and emerging talent, has pushed his stock down. The Bengals have shown a willingness to look past off-field problems for the right players, and Lewan is a big, nasty, physical pass blocker with the potential to take over the left tackle spot and allow Whitworth to move inside permanently.
2. Morgan Moses: Like Collins, Moses is better in pass protection than in the run game, but he’s very good at what he does. He’ll need to work on balance issues, but with veterans around him to help, and a terrific offensive line coach, he could become a force. He’s strong, with quick feet, and if he falls to them in the second round, he’s an attractive option.
3. Antonio Richardson: “Tiny” is another tackle prospect that oozes potential. At 6’6″ and 336 lbs, he’s a massive figure who can engulf would-be tacklers in the running game. His work in the passing game still needs some work, but there’s no reason to think he won’t improve drastically. He’s quicker than a guy that size should be, and he’s powerful at the point of attack. He’s a second round steal.
4. JuWuan James: James spend the 2013 season lined up opposite of Tiny Richardson, making for, arguably, the best set of tackles in the nation. James is also huge, measuring 6’6″ and 311 lbs. He mostly played right tackle, but has the talent to play on the left side. He’s a better run blocker right now, but he is as physically gifted as anybody. If he improves his consistency, he’ll be a terrific NFL tackle.
5. Billy Turner: One player who could go to the Bengals as a developmental player is small-school prospect Billy Turner. Possessing ideal size and athleticism, he has the tools a team will be looking for. He’s a mean blocker, and when properly using leverage, dominates his opponent. He’ll need to sit and learn for a bit, but the Bengals could let him learn behind Whitworth for a few seasons.