The best and worst-case scenario for the Bengals’ offensive line in 2020
Cincinnati Bengals’ worst-case offensive line scenario in 2020:
Barring injury, it’s safe to assume the Bengals will improve from what we saw last season, at least slightly. The unit ranked 30th in the league according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, so there isn’t much room to decline.
Much like the overall team success hinges on the play of Joe Burrow, the performance of the offensive line heavily depends on last year’s 11th overall pick, Jonah Williams. The former Alabama star will be tasked with protecting the blindside.
Coming out of college, the only red flags with Williams were his measurables. He’s relatively light for the position and his arm length has been called into question.
In a doomsday scenario, let’s say his technique, athleticism, and meticulous preparation aren’t enough to overcome some of his physical limitations. He would struggle against ultra-athletic defensive ends, but still be able to hold his own against the average edge rusher. He wouldn’t turn into the savior of the offensive line Cincinnati needs, but rather, Williams would be a slightly above average tackle with some time or be forced to move inside to be a quality option at guard.
That would turn up the pressure on the other young prospects to develop. The worst-case would be Michael Jordan remaining the same player he was a year ago and Fred Johnson declining from the solid play fans saw to end the season.
Essentially, that would leave the Bengals with only Trey Hopkins to rely on. He’s an above-average center and still young, but the offensive line will just need more pieces to work with.
Cincinnati could still find some success, even if the big men up front flounder again in the 2020 campaign. After all, Joe Mixon was able to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing behind one of the worst lines in the league a year ago.
The big concern is obviously with Burrow. The LSU product is tremendous at handling pressure but it’s one thing to handle a collegiate pass rush and another to face what the NFL has to offer. It could cause a rocky start for the rookie and shake his confidence right away. If that happens, the Bengals will likely find themselves picking near the top of the draft again next season.