CINCINNATI — Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack is back in Cincinnati after a two-year run with the Jets.
He's well aware of the criticism that group has faced over the past few years—especially after star quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending left knee injury last November.
Cincinnati's starting offensive line could consist of five former first and second round picks. Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff will man the tackle spots. Second round selection Jackson Carman projects to be the Bengals' starting right guard. Xavier Su'a-Filo and Billy Price could get the nod at left guard and center, respectively.
The Bengals' line has more talent than meets the eye and no one knows that better than their new coach.
"We've got a lot of good players still developing," Pollack told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. "I can't wait to get them out on the grass and teaching guys different techniques that maybe they haven't been exposed to the last two years... We'll make some people proud."
Jim Turner was Cincinnati's offensive line coach for the past two seasons. The organization didn't renew his contract and hired Pollack in January. That move should improve the culture inside Paul Brown Stadium.
"I told these guys, everybody gets a clean slate. We're starting everything from day one and it's really irrelevant what you did last year," Pollack said. "And that's what every team's approach is. Players. Coaches. If you're not looking to prove yourself every day, you're going to be on the outside looking in."
The Bengals have multiple linemen with plenty to prove in 2021. Whether it's a former first-round pick in Price or a rookie like D'Ante Smith, who's trying to make the jump from ECU to the NFL.
Cincinnati loves Smith's measurables, which should go a long way in helping him succeed in the pros.
"[Smith has] outstanding length, 35-inch plus arms," Pollack said. "He shows great play demeanor on the field. He likes to finish. He brings that good, nasty disposition. He competed at the Senior Bowl mainly at guard, but he's more of a tackle. He showed his position flex. A real bright kid with a good football IQ."
Smith won't be forced into action right away. The same can't be said for Carman, who is considered the favorite to start at right guard.
"He's a guy that we identified early and really liked," Pollack said. "Intelligent player. Obviously he competed at a high level at Clemson. He knows what a winning program looks like. He's good-sized, athletic, he can move. I expect those traits to develop.
"We like him at guard to start to compete and he's got the potential to swing out to tackle if and when we need it. That may be the case. He's a pretty good position flex, but right now let's start him out at guard."
Williams may be the Bengals' best lineman, despite only playing 10 games in two seasons. The former 11th overall pick has the traits to develop into a high-end left tackle. He fared well, especially as a pass blocker last season.
"Really, last year was his rookie year. It's always a learning curve for every rookie," Pollack said. "I'm real excited about teaching him some new things that he can add to his tool box. He's a smart player. He's very technique aware. He takes pride in being a technician. He's got great feet, great balance. He can use his hands independently. He's got a lot of tools to work with. His better day are ahead. Nothing but up for Jonah Williams."
The Bengals are banking on Pollack to maximize their talent in the trenches. Time will tell, but he may be their biggest upgrade of the offseason, which is saying something after they signed seven unrestricted free agents and added 10 players to the roster in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Read Hobson's entire article here.
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