The Cincinnati Bengals addressed their biggest need at center in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. They will address the line again on day two.
The Cincinnati Bengals went into the offseason having needs all the way across the offensive line. After ranking 28th among all offensive lines by Pro Football Focus there needed to be big changes coming on the offensive line for the offense to move the ball in 2018. Giving up 158 pressures last season left little for quarterback Andy Dalton to work with.
The biggest need going into the offseason was the left tackle position. Cincinnati addressed Dalton’s blindside by trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals moved back nine spots in the trade giving them the 21st overall pick and then moved up from the sixth round into the fifth.
The next position that became the biggest need for the Bengals was at center. Former center Russell Bodine left in free agency after not being impressed with the offer Cincinnati had proposed and signed with the Bills. Considering the Bengals only had one player on the roster that had practice playing center, in practice, was T.J. Johnson. Cincinnati decided to use their 21st overall pick and address the biggest need on the roster taking Ohio State center Billy Price.
The organization has done a great job so far giving new offensive line coach Frank Pollack pieces he can work with to develop this offensive line into a strength. With there still being question marks on the offensive line at right guard and tackle, I fully expect the Bengals to take another lineman on Friday in the second or third round. Most likely the third. Let’s look at top prospects still available and likely candidates to become Bengals on day two.
UTEP guard Will Hernandez
Will Hernandez was projected by most to be a first-round selection and likely to be gone by the time the Bengals were on the clock. The four-year starter at left guard was the most highly decorated offensive lineman in school history in his time at UTEP. Hernandez is a Pro run blocker which is something Cincinnati desperately needs as they were one of the worst in the league running the ball last year.
When watching his tape, the one thing I really noticed about Hernandez in his run blocking was his upper body strength. Being able to drop an anchor and move the defensive linemen out of run lanes and hold them in place without much problem is something to feel good about drafting him. With running back Joe Mixon being the starting running back in his second year in 2018, Cincinnati has to get him more involved and adding more run blocking linemen is the way to do it.
Hernandez also has a good pass protection with his great footwork. Finding more protection for Dalton would be a great move for Cincinnati if they can grab Hernandez in the second round. This is a guy that once again was taken in the first round by most mock drafts and if they can grab him in round two after already addressing center in the first, this is shaping up to be a great draft for the Bengals.
Nevada tackle Austin Corbett
Austin Corbett stepped in at left tackle in the 2014 season starting at 12 games. In 2015, Corbett was named a team captain and in his junior season was selected as a second-team-all-conference by league coaches. Corbett will likely move inside at the NFL level just like his former teammate Joel Bitonio did for the Cleveland Browns.
Cincinnati has already shown interest in Corbett when they brought him in for a top 30 pre-draft visit. Analysts project him to move inside to either guard or center as a versatile lineman at the next level. This is excellent for Cincinnati as you have a guy that can lock down a guard position but move inside to center in case Price gets hurt.
The main concern about Corbett for teams is his lack of length and strength. He will have to get to work building strength with the Bengals training staff which is not uncommon for college prospects. Moving him inside would give him some help on both sides as well. His above average intelligence is well worth the consideration and the versatility make him hard to pass on.
Corbett is projected by NFL.com to go in the second or third round so be looking for his name Friday night. The Bengals have two third round picks so if they don’t address the offensive line in the second round, don’t be surprised if they use one of those third-round picks on offensive line help like Corbett.
Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown
One of the biggest stories at the NFL combine this year was the terrible performance by Orlando Brown. While the young tackle improved some of his workouts at the Oklahoma Pro Day, the numbers were still low sending his draft stock dropping. Not as low as many think.
Many teams have talked about Brown being a great second round pick. There are also analysts who believe he would be a great early third round pick. Regardless, Brown would be an upgrade at the tackle position and move him across from Glenn and you have both tackle positions taken care of. He said he doesn’t want to switch to the right side of the line but I don’t see him playing as a left tackle at the NFL level.
Standing at 6’8″ and 360 pounds, Brown is a big man with some serious arm length at 35″. His length makes up for his lack of athleticism makes it very difficult for edge rushers to try and run around him. Brown can grab defenders trying to run past him and once he gets his hands on you, that’s about as far as you’re getting.
I don’t see Brown falling past the third round on Friday. If the Bengals want to address the tackle position, Brown is likely their best option in a very limited tackle class. He’s another weapon in the run game especially with his length and strength to move defenders and open up run lanes. I think Frank Pollack could develop Brown into a solid starting right tackle.