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Bengals take OT Ogbuehi with eye on future

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The Sports Xchange

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals drafted for the future when they selected Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi in the first round Thursday night.

Ogbuehi suffered a torn ACL in Texas A&M’s Liberty Bowl win against West Virginia last December, but that didn’t dissuade the Bengals from taking him with the 21st overall pick. Ogbuehi (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) was a first-team All-SEC pick by conference coaches last season and a first-team All-America choice by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The injury benefitted the Bengals.

“I frick’n love him,” said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. “There is no way we have a chance at this guy if he doesn’t get hurt. He’s a top-of-the-draft player. There’s no question that this guy has rare feet and athleticism that you see in the very best offensive linemen in the league.”

The Bengals won’t need Ogbuehi to play right away, which is good given his injury. While Ogbuehi said he is aiming to be ready to participate in training camp, the Bengals won’t be as aggressive. They don’t need to be. Andrew Whitworth is one of the top left tackles in the game in, while Andre Smith and Eric Winston return as experienced right tackles. All three are entering the final years of their contracts, however, so Ogbuehi’s future is coming.

This is the 11th time the Bengals have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round; Ogbuehi is the seventh tackle to be drafted in the first round by Cincinnati. This is the fourth time they’ve selected a tackle No. 1 since Alexander became the offensive line coach in 1995. His other three first-round tackles were Willie Anderson (1996), Levi Jones (2002) and Smith (2009). Whitworth was a second-round pick in 2006.

Alexander told Ogbuehi during the player’s pre-draft visit to Cincinnati about his current and former players, the success they have had and his expectation that Ogbuehi can have a similar career. Alexander said that got Ogbuehi excited.

“I did,” said Ogbuehi. “They’ve all had a lot of success and they’ve all played long careers, so it’s a good sign for me. Every guy that they drafted in the first round has had great careers.”

The Bengals knew they would have plenty of options when their turn came around at No. 21. They weren’t going to be at the mercy of having to reach for a need. Their main target heading into the first round was on either side of the line of scrimmage.

Their positioning improved as the first round progressed. They were helped when St. Louis and San Diego made Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon the first running backs taken in Round 1 since 2012. Three cornerbacks — Trae Waynes (Minnesota), Kevin Johnson (Houston) and Marcus Peters (Kansas City) — were taken off the board as well.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said the team’s medical staff gave Ogbuehi clearance from a draft standpoint. Just how soon he’ll be able to play this season remains to be seen.

“We’ll have to judge that once he gets here and we’re laying hands on him every day, before we know where he is,” said Lewis. “Obviously this is more of a nine-month injury, minimum, anyway. He had surgery in early January, so you’re looking at September (at the earliest).”


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