After the Cincinnati Bengals‘ offensive line got manhandled to the degree that it did last year, they made moves to improve the unit.
The Bengals signed Riley Reiff to play right tackle, they re-signed Quinton Spain who as of now is listed as the starting left guard, and they drafted three total offensive linemen in the draft (Jackson Carman in round two, D’Ante Smith in round four, and Trey Hill in round six).
Even with the new additions to the o-line, the unit isn’t looked at with much respect. Mike Clay of ESPN releases his position rankings every year around this time and has the Bengals’ offensive line in the bottom four with a 0.5 rating. The only worst units are the Steelers (0.1), Panthers (0.3), and Giants (0.4).
Cincinnati Bengals offense continues to get disrespected
Fans might not be shocked with the low rating from Clay. After all, this group was so bad last year that it led to rookie quarterback Joe Burrow getting injured and missing the final six games of his rookie season.
While the Bengals made strides toward improving the unit upfront, it hasn’t looked to have paid off in training camp. We’ve seen improvements from Jonah Williams at left tackle but injuries have been his biggest issue since entering the league. We’ve also seen rookie D’Ante Smith rise up the depth chart and did so at a position he wasn’t even drafted to play.
It makes sense to see the Bengals ranked in the bottom four and this is motivation for this group, who knows the spotlight is on them. The most important thing for the Bengals this year is that their offensive line is good enough to protect Burrow and keep him healthy. Otherwise, it’ll be hard for Burrow to improve and for this team to really go anywhere.
As of now, the starting o-line is Williams, Spain, Trey Hopkins, Michael Jordan, and Reiff. Jordan was part of the play that led to Burrow’s injury last year so putting him back in the starting right guard position is a bold move by the Bengals.
Will the Cincinnati o-line end up being better than where they’re ranked right now? Only time will tell.