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Bengals Draft Targets: First Round Offensive Tackles

Joe Burrow and the Bengals have now been through four seasons together. Two of the campaigns have ended early due to injuries. The other two ending with Burrow on the ground in a championship game. The Bengals have to get the offensive line right before it’s too late. To avoid another Andrew Luck situation, it is time to solidify the offensive line in year five of Burrow. Cincinnati will have plenty of intriguing options in the draft at 18th overall to do so.

Olu Fashanu

Olu Fashanu is one of the more polarizing tackle prospects of recent memory. Fashanu has been widely regarded as OT2 through much of the pre-draft process. Yet his stock has dipped recently, seeing himself fall out of the top 10 of many mock drafts. This is classic overthinking by the media after a long offseason of film and analytics. Still, it does appear as though some teams may view other tackles to have a higher ceiling than the Penn State prospect. Olu, while unlikely, is potentially in play for the Bengals at 18.

Fashanu’s size and length are the foundation of his profile. Fashanu will be just 21 years old for most of his rookie season and already has the coordination and refinement on tape as an NFL starter. The former team captain shows control in his balance, body positioning, and his feet and hands are in sync in pass protection. Despite a combine record in smallest hands ever measured at 8.5 inches, Fashanu projects to come in as an adequate starter immediately.

Olu Fashanu has all the makings of a franchise left tackle. A left tackle, where he played exclusively at Penn State. There are questions if Fashanu would only be aligned on the left. Obviously, the Bengals already have that position squared away with Orlando Brown Jr. who is notably against playing on the right side. Would Olu also be unwilling to make a big switch? Would a team be doing him a disservice by moving him from where he mastered his skill?

Amarius Mims

Amarius Mims may be the greatest mystery of the 2024 NFL Draft. Mims logged just over 800 snaps at Georgia in his three year colligate career. After waiting his turn behind future NFL lineman Broderick Jones, Mims finally got his chance to start at Georgia. Unfortunately, Mims suffered a high ankle sprain and appeared in only seven games in 2023. In the limited snaps we did see out of Mims, he flashed top 10 potential.

In 402 pass blocking snaps, Mims allowed zero sacks, zero hits, and just six total hurries. His limited tape shows great athletic ability which was backed up by his athletic testing at the combine. Mims not only shows the necessary athleticism, but the technical refinement shown on tape is almost scary for the lack of reps he’s received. Mim’s size and length at right tackle cap off his profile and has scouts and draft analysts all over the map on his draft projection.

However. no one is the perfect prospect and Mims is certainly no exception. The obvious elephant in the room is his lack of snaps. We don’t have the full picture on Mims. It is entirely possible some of Mims flaws were never exploited on tape, we just don’t have enough reps for really just one year as a starter. Mims high ankle sprain, which contributed to his lack of playing time, and his hamstring injury at the NFL combine have raised some eyebrows about Mims durability as well. After all, the best ability is availability.

Looking at Mims through a Bengals lens, if Cincinnati does use their 18th overall pick on the Georgia lineman, he isn’t likely to see a starter’s worth of snaps in year one either. The Bengals signed veteran Trent Brown as an insurance policy and is very likely to start over a potential rookie. Another season spent mostly on the bench for Mims could negatively impact his progression. At what does rust accumulate for a player? ~ 1,000 snaps in four seasons isn’t a recipe for a consistent lineman.

Despite the risk involved it is rare for a prospect of Mims’ caliber to be available outside of the top ten. Yes, he is a projection at the next level, but if he does pan out to be the best tackle from his class no one will remember the risk involved.

J.C. Latham

J.C. Latham has excellent tape coming out of Alabama. One of the draft’s best run blockers standing at 6’5, 342 pounds. His large frame and long arms make him a brick wall on the move. Latham possess elite strength and strong hands; he is a run mauler on the right side of the line. Latham’s toughness, balance, and coordination lend him a high floor as a prospect.

While Latham’s floor is high, his ceiling may be capped. J.C. Latham opted out of doing any athletic testing before the NFL Draft in April. Many projected top ten picks opt out of athletic testing, they have nothing to gain and only run the risk of lowering their draft stock. But Latham is not a top ten prospect. In fact, Latham is in the midst of a fierce offensive tackle competition. There are at least five tackles worthy of going in the first round. Latham choosing not to do athletic testing to put himself over his peers shows he is hiding something. You can see it on tape, he is a limited run blocker at the 2nd level. His feet also appear to be heavy, and his motor has been called into question. The Bengals are no strangers to linemen with no athletic testing. They’ve spent first rounders on Cedric Ogbuehi and Billy Price, who both didn’t work out. 2021 2nd rounder Jackson Carman also did not test, and well you can add him to the bust list. Not testing isn’t the end all be all in the NFL, but the indicator is there for limited lineman at the next level. You have to wonder if the Bengals have learned their lesson or are they willing to take his tape and make him a Bengal.

Taliese Fuaga

Taliese Fuaga has risen up NFL Draft boards more than any other tackle in the class. Fuaga’s size, strength, and athleticism land him in the top tier of offensive linemen that declared for the draft. The more Fuaga’s stock rises the less likely he is a Bengal. Yet if he did find himself in Cincinnati, he would find himself starting as a rookie, something not every lineman can say in this class if drafted by the Bengals. That is because of Fuaga’s versatility to play guard or tackle. While Trent Brown holds down the fort at right tackle Fuaga is an immediate plug and play at left guard. Not only would the Bengals find a right tackle of the future, but they’ve also upgraded their left guard position for 2024 and improved the depth by benching current starting Cordell Volson.

If the Bengals are looking strictly for a right tackle however, they may look past Fuaga who likely could be a better guard than he is tackle. Fuaga’s footwork and discipline in pass protection were among his biggest pre-draft questions. Some of those questions would go away at guard.

Also worth mentioning, Fuaga is an Athlete’s first client represented by agent David Mulugheta who the Bengals have infamously never gotten a contract extension done with. Most notably safety Jessie Bates and the ongoing saga with Tee Higgins. While this factor may not completely take a prospect off their board, it should be something to consider if you’re the Bengals.

Troy Fautanu

Troy Fautanu is very similar to fellow pacific northwest prospect Taliese Fuaga. Both possess the length, power, and athleticism to play guard or tackle at the NFL level. Fautanu offers the Bengals the ability to start year one on the interior offensive line. His athleticism gives him a shot to make it on the outside as a tackle as well. This pick would give the Bengals options on the offensive line, which they’ve never had since drafting Joe Burrow.

Although similarly to Fuaga, Fautanu may struggle as a tackle in pass protection. There is refinement needed out of the Washington product, tending to overset and get out of position and off balance. If the Bengals covet a true tackle, they may be best suited with a big school tackle from Penn State, Alabama, or Georgia.

The Bengals offensive line consists of four veteran contracts out of five. They’re slow, unathletic, and a little underpowered in the middle. An infusion of youth and athleticism is needed to boost the unit’s overall output. Lessening the money spent on the offensive line is a must once Burrow and Chase’s extensions start to take effect. When Joe Burrow is sacked 1 or less times in a game, including the playoffs, the Bengals are 13-1. Finding their right tackle of the future would ensure a winning formula in Cincinnati.


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