CINCINNATI — The Bengals picked Jackson Carman in the second-round (46th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft because they believed he could start right away.
"Yeah, absolutely. He's going to come in and compete for a starting job this year," offensive line coach Frank Pollack said in April.
If Carman is going to start, he's going to have to outplay Xavier Su'a-Filo, Quinton Spain and any of the other potential veterans hoping to be the Bengals' right guard this season.
What does the 21-year-old need to do to win the job during camp?
"Just show that he can be consistent day in and day out," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said on Wednesday. "There's a lot of things that go into playing in the NFL. And this goes for all the rookies, but it's being a pro on and off the field, taking care of your body, studying at night, being prepared with questions the next day. And that's really the message to all those young players is you know, in college, you knew your system, you were a three or four-year starter. You knew it, it was easy to you. This isn't going to be as easy to you. And so you've got to spend a lot of time making sure you're ready to go because I promise you the guys he's competing with, they know their jobs, and they're ready to do it and they don't want to lose their job. So those will be good training camp battles at those guard spots and that'll be an interesting group to watch as we get going here. You know, next week, we have a chance to put on the pads. These first four days it's just helmets so it'll really ramp up next week."
Carman is not only adjusting to life in the NFL, but he also has to learn a new position. He was a left tackle at Clemson. Now he's hoping to learn and develop into the Bengals' starting guard.
"He's practiced at all the positions before, so it's not like it's the first time he's played (guard)," Taylor said. "I just think the transition from college to the pros, just takes a little time. You've gotta put the pads on and see how it feels. And now you're going against, you know, some—he went against some really good players in college, but we feel like we got some good D-tackles he's going to go against and that'll be a challenge for him."
The Bengals' first practice in full pads is scheduled for Tuesday, August 3. Carman's development will be crucial in keeping Joe Burrow upright this season.
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