Cincinnati Bengals: Five key position battles to watch

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Bengals position battle: The Offensive Line Needs to Protect Joe Burrow

Cincinnati has had one of the worst offensive lines in the league for a few years now. Many thought they would try to bring in a top-rated free agent or draft an offensive lineman high in the draft. Neither of those things happened. The Bengals brought in Xavier Su’a-Filo as the only upgrade to the unit, relying instead on young players to make leaps of improvement.

Jonah Williams is the only player that definitively has a spot going into 2020. The 2019 first-round pick was injured all of last year but will get the chance to lock down the left tackle spot this season.

The other tackle battle is between Fred Johnson and Bobby Hart. Hart played significantly more snaps last year but had a rocky road and put together a below-average campaign. Johnson had a limited number of snaps but performed better than Hart when given the chance. Whoever starts needs to continue to take a step in the right direction this year.

As for the middle of the line, there is a lot of uncertainty. Trey Hopkins performed best at the center spot last season and should end up starting there again. Xavier Su’a-Filo, Billy Price, and Michael Jordan are all battling for the two guard spots. Throw in the potential for the loser of the Hart-Johnson battle at right tackle and there could be four players fighting for two starting positions.

Su’a-Filo performed much better than Price or Jordan did last year, so there is the expectation that he will lock down one of the guard spots.

The unit needs to improve fast and doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for players to fully develop. With Joe Burrow beginning his tenure in Ohio, the offensive line needs to be more of a solution than a problem.