The Cincinnati Bengals made drastic improvements to their offensive line this offseason, and their starting five undeniably represents an upgrade from last year. But what about the depth behind them?
With Cordell Volson finally winning the left guard job, the Bengals’ starting offensive line is locked and ready to go: Jonah Williams, Volson, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins. The only drawback is the lack of playing time these five players have together as Cincy didn’t want to risk injury by putting them all on the field during the preseason.
Nonetheless, each lineman could be considered an elite player in his own right, and the unit shouldn’t run into any issues with chemistry this season.
As for the O-line depth…. second-, third-, and fourth-string linemen got their chances to shine in three preseason games, yet the unit as a whole ranked last in the league in pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus.
In the event one of the starters goes down due to injury, the Bengals may not be able to rely on their current backup pieces to fill in for snaps.
Cincinnati Bengals would be wise to add more experienced backup offensive linemen in 2022
Currently, the backups include the ever-inconsistent Jackson Carman, Trey Hill, Hakeem Adeniji, D’Ante Smith, and Isaiah Prince. Lamont Gaillard has been enjoying a better than expected preseason and could also find himself on the final roster come Tuesday.
If the Bengals want to steer clear of the offensive line troubles they had in 2021, though, they should consider adding one or two extra experienced vets to the offensive line unit who can keep Joe Burrow upright.
Sacked 51 times in the 2021 regular season, Burrow needs all the pass protection he can get as Cincy looks to make another deep playoff run.
Teams aren’t going to give the Bengals the benefit of the doubt anymore and will more readily prepare for Cincy’s lethal passing attack; the offensive line plays one of the most important yet overlooked parts in the passing game, and seeing the unit struggle in 2022 would surely lead to a worse overall offensive performance.
Whether the Bengals find better options in free agency or via a cheap trade, the team has to at least be thinking about how to keep their offensive line elite this year. That includes both the starters and the backups.