Bengals: D’Ante Smith has a legit chance to earn starting job

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle D’Ante Smith (70) - Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle D’Ante Smith (70) - Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted D’Ante Smith in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft and the rookie is making strides in training camp.

At the time of Smith being drafted, Stripe Hype’s Alan Rubenstein noted that Smith could be a long-term starter on the o-line. It made sense as to why this was, as the Bengals signed Riley Reiff to just a one-year deal in free agency, so he isn’t necessarily in the team’s plans past this year.

With Reiff being banged up, however, Smith has had plenty of opportunities with the starters in training camp. At first, it didn’t go well, as Smith was manhandled by Sam Hubbard all afternoon long.

Recently, though, Smith has started to turn things around and is impressing head coach Zac Taylor. This change came when Smith got first-team reps at guard rather than his collegiate position of tackle.

Switching to guard looks to have made a difference for Smith and now, there’s a legitimate case for him to make the starting offensive line, as he’s looked much better inside the line.

D’Ante Smith is stating his case to win one of the two guard spots

Up until this point, the guard jobs seemed to be a four-man competition between second-round rookie Jackson Carman, Michael Jordan, Quinton Spain, and Xavier Su’a-Filo with Carman and Spain typically linked as the favorites. Smith, however, received starting reps over Carman and looks to have officially thrown his hat into the ring for the guard competition.

The Bengals offensive line is one of the biggest talking points this offseason and for good reason. The unit didn’t play well last year and led to Joe Burrow getting injured and missing the final six games of his rookie season.

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Smith might not have looked good at right tackle but he’s showing that he can transition inside to guard pretty seamlessly. This is a great sign for the Bengals and if Smith continues to impress Taylor and the rest of the Bengals coaching staff, there’s a great chance for the fourth-round rookie to win one of the starting guard positions.