Although the Cincinnati Bengals drafted a center in the 2013 NFL Draft, there are still concerns that that they will need to take more drastic measures in order to ensure that the future of the position is more secure.
Last season, the Bengals sailed through three centers in 16 games and the best of those, rookie Trevor Robinson, barely made the top 32 centers in the NFL. Considering he played in 13 games and started seven, you would hope for a slightly better center, especially with the wealth of talent that is available on the rest of the Bengals’ offensive line.
This year, the Bengals drafted at the position, but it seems as though they weren’t looking for someone to take over immediately as they drafted what appears to be, to me at least, a project.
T.J. Johnson, drafted in the fifth round, could make a good addition to the Bengals center depth chart. He was selected to the All-Southeastern Conference second team, and although that’s a great feat in itself, it is still not a great reason why he should be picked up for a starting spot.
The Bengals have a few options here, of course. Firstly, they can stick it out with who they have, keep rolling with Robinson and hope that he improves in his second year; or, they can hope that Johnson turns out to be stronger and therefore already ready to start in the position. Secondly, and this seems like a necessity at this point, they could pick up a free agent center while there are still one or two worth signing.
The best of the rest is of course former Kansas City Chiefs center Ryan Lija. Although he is not a solution for the future of the offensive line as he is now 31 years of age, it’s likely that the Bengals could immediately move him into the starting position and have him play for at least a few seasons.
Last season, he was a top-10 center, so it came as a surprise that the Chiefs didn’t want him on their roster anymore. At the end of the day, it came down to cap space and unfortunately he was taking up too much of it. Lija could come to the Bengals at a reduced price and help the extremely inexperienced centers that the Bengals have available to them, helping out the future of the franchise.
The Bengals will probably not sign themselves another center in the offseason, electing to move forward with the guys that they have already. Not a great decision in my view, but then again, I don’t run a billion dollar franchise, so I may not know best.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88