It’s very early, but the Cincinnati Bengals might have found something pretty interesting with the offensive line.
As the offensive line with three backups steamrolled the Buffalo Bills to a 27-10 finish for one of the unit’s best performances all year, it became clear the apparent weakness might just have something to offer for the long-term.
We’re mostly talking about Jackson Carman at left tackle, who was suddenly thrown into emergency duty last week before managing to look ever better against the Bills.
It’s interesting because Carman played left tackle in college but seemed to project as more of a guard. The presence of Jonah Williams and the unwillingness of coaches to move him stopped Carman from ever playing a potentially more natural spot.
The praise was well-earned:
It’s way too early to simply say Carman should be the left tackle moving forward, but it’s an incredibly interesting time for this to happen considering Williams has just one more year on his rookie deal.
The ramifications are huge — not paying Williams like a left tackle would mean more money to use elsewhere. Or, there’s a chance they could bring Williams back to play him at right tackle next season.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but one can see why these early developments are so interesting.
And that’s not even mentioning the solid play of backup right guard Max Scharping. And prospect Hakeem Adeniji, after taking his lumps last year, has looked good at right tackle — giving them insurance if La’el Collins can’t get healthy in time for next season.
Keep the draft in mind, too. If Carman keeps playing at this level, offensive tackle might no longer sit as one of the top draft needs this year, opening up the early rounds to address other spots. That goes equally for all line spots if the depth is really this good now.
There’s a long way to go. The Bengals have at least one more game, maybe two, to see these auditions in real time that could change free agency and draft plans. Williams and right guard Alex Cappa could end up returning for the AFC title game in Kansas City next week.
But right now? Carman and a line starting three backups have given the organization something major to chew on after a stunner of a showing.