The Cincinnati Bengals were unable to rebuild their offensive line last winter and spring, and it cost them badly when fall rolled around.
One of the reasons more wasn’t done before it was too late: A weak class of offensive linemen available in the 2017 draft.
That is not expected to be a problem this time around.
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Although much could change after the NFL combine in early March, talent evaluators are so far higher on the big guys in the 2018 draft class than they were a year ago.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout in the league, had only four offensive linemen in his top 50 last year.
For 2018, that number is 10, including five tackles.
Leading the way at that position is Connor Williams of Texas, who is Jeremiah’s No. 17 prospect. Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown is No. 31 followed by Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey four spots later.
Rounding out the tackles group: Tyrell Crosby of Oregon (42) Brian O’Neill of Pitt (44) and Martinas Rankin of Mississippi State (48).
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If taking Williams in the first round is a reach for the Bengals, who pick 12th and generally prefer taking the best player available over drafting strictly out of need, they should have multiple appealing choices available in the second round.
There is also reason to believe they can draft Russell Bodine’s replacement at center.
Jeremiah ranks Iowa center James Daniels the No. 25 prospect overall with Billy Price, the Rimington Award winner from Ohio State, No. 30.