Former East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith was taken in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Smith showed potential coming out of ECU as a pro prospect, however, injuries and his place on the depth chart haven’t allowed him to see the field very often.
In his two years in Cincinnati, Smith has appeared in three regular season games. The coaches seem to like him enough to keep him on the active roster but not enough to suit up on game days. The coaches kept him on the active roster in 2022, but when injuries started to pile up along the offensive line, they called up Isaiah Prince off the practice squad and moved Max Scharping into a starting role.
It is not very encouraging if an offensive lineman can’t get the call over Scharping, a free-agent acquisition from a year ago.
Furthermore, Cincinnati famously signed tackle Orlando Brown Jr. this off-season to replace Jonah Williams on the left side. Also, the team acquired Cody Ford in free agency to compete for the right tackle spot along with Williams and Jackson Carman.
The offensive line room is suddenly overcrowded. Furthering Smith's dilemma is that there are versatile offensive tackles competing for a job who have experience at playing guard on their resumé. Versatility is something that the Bengals value in their linemen. Smith is seen as strictly a tackle, which could be part of why we have not seen a lot from him.
Injuries, incoming free agents, and an inability to climb the depth chart could spell bad news for the former fourth-rounder.