2. Max Scharping / Cordell Volson
Making a loaded Bengals roster as a drafted rookie is already an uphill climb. Now imagine doing it as an undrafted rookie free agent. That is what Jaxson Kirkland aims to achieve. If he succeeds, several veteran offensive linemen could be affected.
Guard Max Scharping could be the first to feel the pressure from the former Washington Cougars guard. The Bengals re-signed Scharping this offseason to a one-year contract. The Bengals could easily move off of his contract saving $1,105,000 in cap space by doing so, according to Over the Cap.
Even though they are listed as tackles on the Bengals’ official roster, other players who might be at risk of losing a roster spot if Kirkland lives up to his previously perceived first-round potential are guys who have played guard before. Cody Ford and Hakeem Adeniji are two players who fit that description but Scharping is the most directly concerned.
Guard Cordell Volson’s starting job could also be at stake. Right now, he is penciled in at left guard. Depending on what happens at right tackle with Jonah Williams, La’el Collins, et al, Volson is the most vulnerable if we were to try to predict which offensive linemen could lose their starting role.
Count on Volson being on the roster no matter what. It is also more likely than not that he will be the starting left guard in the first game of the season.
However, if Kirkland can show the coaching staff why he was once considered a first-round talent, he could push for playing time in the starting lineup. This is especially so if he can help prevent Burrow from getting sacked 40 or more times during the season.
It would be a surprise if an undrafted rookie free agent were to take a veteran’s spot on this talented roster. If it was to happen, the offensive line is a good place to look and Kirkland is talented enough to make it happen.