Cincinnati made some substantial acquisitions between the draft and the free agency. However, a lot of the team’s success is going to come from where everything on offense must start, and that’s why it’s important to look into the Bengals offensive line in 2020.
The team may have selected one of college football’s best players of all-time in former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, but the Heisman winner won’t be able to get much going if the men in front can’t function at a high level of performance.
So, what can we expect from those players?
The Bengals headline offensive linemen
There’s been a lot of talk of Williams’ offseason transformation after he missed the entirety of his rookie season last year. He seems more than ready to slide into the starting left tackle spot as he makes his “rookie debut” in 2020.
Williams faces quite the task of filling a void that’s existed since Andrew Whitworth’s departure and is listed at the top of the depth chart at the position. Getting Williams in 2020 will be akin to the Bengals having made two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hopkins solidifies the middle of the line at center for the Bengals, who signed him to a multi-year extension at the end of last year. Once just an undrafted free agent trying to find a spot on the team, Hopkins has earned high praise from his coaches and has now found some security. Simply put, he’s not going anywhere.
Could we see a contest for the other tackle spot?
The battle for the right tackle position in Cincinnati will come down to Hart and Fred Johnson. Hart may be the incumbent starter, and he’s started every game since he joined the Bengals back in February of 2018, but he was also the most penalized offensive lineman on the team last year.
It will be interesting to see if he can hold the No. 1 spot for the entirety of the season. However, he does risk losing it before the season is even underway, especially if one of the names behind him has a strong showing in camp. A lack of preseason and a rookie quarterback should work in favor of the veteran.
Johnson is a prospect who could stand to develop more but poses a threat to Hart’s place at the top of the right tackle depth chart. Johnson came to Cincinnati from the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, earning a Week 17 start against the Cleveland Browns.
Can he make the jump this year? It’s something that shouldn’t be ruled out. If he can put in strong performances in camp, he will provide a looming threat behind Hart during the 2020 season.
The Bengals’ sixth-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft has some developing to do after playing out 48 consecutive starts at Kansas. However, the uncertainty at a number of offensive line positions could mean that he immediately has a shot at a starting role.
He’s currently listed at No. 3 on ESPN’s depth chart at left tackle, but could also see time at guard, especially given who he has to compete with on the left side of the line. Ideally, a sixth-round pick would have time to develop in the league, but Adeniji may have to take on that learning curve on the field in the biggest moments of them all.
Who are the options at left guard?
Selected by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jordan was a longshot entering training camp. However, a strong preseason showing put him at the top of the depth chart at left guard to begin the season.
He struggled to make the transition from college to the NFL, something many rookies go through at all positions, and it didn’t help that he was hampered by injury. He has a chance to prove he’s worthy of the top spot once again this year.
Price has dealt with injury for much of his career, but is reportedly “feeling healthier than ever,” and is ready to show just why the Bengals took him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Price finished out last year playing right guard, though he was originally selected to play center at the beginning of his NFL career. That flexibility should make him a lock to make the roster as a player that can cover both guard and center in 2020.
Redmond is currently listed at the bottom of ESPN’s depth chart at left guard, behind Jordan and Price. He was originally signed by the Bengals as an undrafted college free agent back in 2016 and has played in 23 career games with 17 starts.
After keeping him around on a one-year deal, the Bengals clearly like the depth he offers. However, he entered training camp still recovering from a torn bicep, which will make it hard for him to earn a roster spot.
Will it be a veteran at right guard, or can a fresher face steal the role?
The veteran signed with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent in 2020, and brings athleticism to the interior of the offensive line, currently sitting at the top spot at the right guard position. He’s played in 75 career games with 53 starts and was a part of a Dallas Cowboys offense that ranked in the top 10 in rushing the past two seasons.
Enter training camp he should be a virtual lock to ae the roster and is likely to be in the starting lineup in Week 1. However, there are some intriguing options behind him who will be desperate to steal his starting spot in camp.
Cordasco is a new face, signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State this year. He’s expected to compete at either guard or tackle during camp, both of which will be highly competitive. There is a very strong chance that if he doesn’t quite do enough to make the roster, he could end up on the practice squad for the 2020 season.
Prince, signed by the Bengals off waivers from the Dolphins in December, brings length and athleticism to the tackle position. We won’t see him this year, though, considering he’s opted out to a 2020 season surrounded by coronavirus concerns.
Signed by the Bengals in 2019 as an undrafted free agent, Dugas posted an impressive training camp, but was sidelined for his rookie season due to a knee injury. We do not know much about Dugas outside of a solid preseason showing in 2019. He will be another player competing for a role at both tackle and guard in 2020.
Knipfel sits at the bottom of ESPN’s projected depth chart for the Bengals at right tackle, directly behind Dugas. Knipfel, who was made an impact for the Iowa State Cyclones for three seasons, was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in May. Yet another name who could be a potential practice squad member, Knipfel might struggle to see much significant work in camp this offseason