Pro Football Focus still thinks the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line will be bad this season.
This seems to be predicated on two things: Ohio State rookie Billy Price being no better than last year’s center and Trey Hopkins both being the starting right guard and being no better than he was a year ago.
I’m not sure I agree on any of those points of view.
(You can find the full rankings here.)
Obviously there’s some guesswork when it comes to any rookie stepping into the lineup right away, and Price is no different.
Given his physicality, it’s hard to see him getting pushed around the way Russell Bodine did for the last four seasons, though.
Price may not be an immediate All-Pro, but he’s likely to be better than average quickly — and that would be an upgrade over Bodine, who only managed an “average” PFF grade once in four years in Cincinnati before leaving via free agency.
Simply anchoring his spot consistently would provide a huge upgrade over Bodine and make everyone else’s job (including quarterback Andy Dalton) easier.
As a young guy from a major program (Texas) who still hasn’t played that much pro football (12 starts, all last season), Hopkins may not have reached his ceiling.
Like everyone else, he stands to improve from new offensive line coach Frank Pollack’s teaching.
If he doesn’t, he probably won’t be playing because the Bengals have no shortage of options at right guard (Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman and T.J. Johnson). Johnson has been a solid sub at times while Redmond and Westerman showed some flashes late last season when the unit was decimated by injuries.
A nice training camp competition is shaping up there, and it’s reasonable to hope that will bring out the best in one or more of the candidates.
As for the rest of the AFC North, the Steelers offensive line ranks fourth in the league (up from 12th last season) while the Browns are ranked 14th despite the retirement of All-Pro Joe Thomas (don’t bet on them being this good) and the Ravens are 24th (do bet on them being this bad, if not worse).
The Bengals start training camp next week (July 26).