Cincinnati Bengals Rookie Class Bold Predictions
Jackson Carman will start multiple games at both guard spots this season.
Jackson Carman, the Bengals’ second-round pick out of Clemson, must bear the burden of being an immediate starter on this oft-maligned offensive line. Although Carman played all three seasons at left tackle in college, the Bengals appear to envision him as a guard at the pro level given his lack of arm length and foot speed.
With the free agent acquisition of Riley Reiff at right tackle and the retention of Xavier Su’a-Filo and Quinton Spain, Carman most naturally fits into the starting five as the right guard, as Su’a-Filo and Spain have played mostly left guard in the NFL.
To get the most veteran group protecting Burrow from day one, I expect the Bengals to start one of Su’a-Filo or Spain at their best position while moving Carman to right guard for the start of the season.
Carman may very well be the right guard of the future, but in all likelihood, Carman is the only guard on the roster who factors into the Bengals’ long-term plans on the offensive line. If that is the case, the Bengals should consider moving Carman to left guard at some point during the season.
Not only would this give Carman critical reps at his likely position of the future (and not to mention his more natural side of the line), but this move would also free up opportunities to play sixth-round rookie Trey Hill at right guard.
Hill profiles as a swing interior offensive lineman, and should the Bengals be outside of playoff contention at the end of the season, they should play their offensive line of the future. Even in the case the Bengals are in playoff contention, Spain played competent right guard last season after being signed midway through the year.
Carman will hopefully find his NFL position early with the Bengals, but I expect the team to rotate the line throughout the year to find the best iteration. That will almost certainly mean switching Carman’s side of the line, and fans should expect to see Carman playing multiple positions during the 2021 season.