Bengals take A&M tackle Ogbuehi at No. 21
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals felt they were in position to take a player in the first round who may not even play for them next season.
Cincinnati was thinking long-term with the 21st overall pick in the draft on Thursday night, choosing offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi from Texas A&M even though he’s coming off reconstructive knee surgery and is still months away from being able to play.
Cincinnati doesn’t need a rookie to come in and start right away at any position, so it went into the draft looking for players who will add depth for now and grow into a bigger role the following year.
Ogbuehi fit the mold. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman played left tackle and right tackle in college. He’s recovering from a torn right ACL suffered in the Liberty Bowl. He had surgery in January, and the Bengals don’t expect him to be ready until September at the earliest.
“It kind of fits us just right,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. “We’ve got our starting offensive line back and we’ve got good players. But he’s a guy that you don’t get a shot at very often. When you’ve got a shot at tackles, you’ve got to take them.”
He could eventually replace Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. Whitworth is entering his 10th season in the NFL and is coming off one of his better seasons.
The Bengals figured that Ogbuehi would be available for the 21st pick because of the injury.
“If he doesn’t get hurt, he’s a top-of-the-draft player, no question,” Alexander said. “There’s not many teams in the league that have the luxury of having their starting line back and can work the guy in, so I didn’t imagine who would have taken him ahead of us.”
Ogbuehi said during a conference call that he is jogging, doing lateral movement and jumping. The Bengals don’t expect him to be ready to play before the start of the season.
“I’m going to play this year,” he said. “I just know I am.”
Coach Marvin Lewis said the Bengals’ doctors looked at Ogbuehi’s medical reports and MRI results when he visited Cincinnati and were confident he could make a full recovery.
“The doctors put their stamp of approval on it and we go from there,” Lewis said. “We know how to rehab it.
“Obviously this is almost a nine-month injury minimum anyway. He had surgery in early January. So we’re stuck that way for sure.”
The Bengals considered offensive tackles and defensive tackles in the first round. Upgrading the defensive line is a priority after Cincinnati finished last in sacks in the NFL.
The Bengals will look for help on the defensive line in later rounds.
“We were hopefully going to be able to add a young defensive lineman or offensive lineman early in the draft, and we were able to get one side of the ball taken care of,” Lewis said.
Cincinnati re-signed end Michael Johnson, but could use help at defensive tackle. Margus Hunt has been hurt and hasn’t developed as quickly as the Bengals had hoped. Geno Atkins struggled in his first season back from reconstructive knee surgery, getting only three sacks and 34 tackles.
They also need to add to their depth at receiver.
Marvin Jones missed all of last season with a broken foot and bone chips in an ankle that required surgery. The Bengals’ receiving options were severely limited with A.J. Green held back by turf toe and tight end Tyler Eifert suffering a season-ending elbow injury in the first game. Nobody else emerged consistently enough to help the Bengals keep going.
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