Bengals choice for first-round pick not sexy nor wrong

CINCINNATI — According to the majority of Twitter the Bengals drafted themselves back to the lost decade of the 1990’s on Thursday. After one whole round.

The immediacy of today’s world can be hell. If not for a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in a December bowl game, chances seem pretty good that Cedric Ogbuehi (pronounced ow-BWAY-hee) would’ve been a player worthy of being selected in the top 10 of this year’s NFL draft class. At 6-feet, 5-inches of height and a listed 305 pounds, Ogbuehi is the latest in a line of impressive offensive tackles to come from the Texas A&M program. Luke Joeckel was the No. 2 overall pick two years ago by Jacksonville. Atlanta felt so highly of Jake Matthews that the Falcons selected him sixth in the first round of last year’s draft.

Ogbuehi was a first-team All-SEC pick last season as a left tackle, after playing right tackle his junior season. The Walter Camp Football Foundation picked him as part of its first-team All-America squad.

Somebody thought he was pretty good.

So did the Bengals. Paul Alexander has been coaching Cincinnati’s offensive line for the past 20 seasons. Alexander is pretty good at his job. He has an eye for talent. The Bengals have drafted offensive linemen in the first round four times previously in Alexander’s tenure; tackle Willie Anderson in 1996, tackle Levi Jones in 2002, tackle Andre Smith in 2009 and guard Kevin Zeitler in 2012. Alexander has had some successful players in the second round, too. Eric Steinbach in 2003 and Andrew Whitworth in 2006 immediately come to mind.

Ogbuehi isn’t a sexy pick. The ACL injury and the fact that the Bengals are pretty well stacked at tackle means he’s got a good shot at starting the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and will miss a minimum of six weeks. Ogbuehi wasn’t picked for his capability of playing and helping this season, which is odd to say about a first-round draft choice. He was picked for the future. Whatever the Bengals get out of him this season is going to be a plus.

"I frick’n love him," said Alexander Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. "Let me tell you, there’s 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."  

Time for recent draft picks to prove their worth for Bengals

The Bengals are on a dubious streak of four straight one-and-dones in the playoffs. Yes, conventional wisdom and thought says the first pick of a draft has to be someone who can push this team over the top this season. That’s not a wrong thought. But the Bengals have put themselves in position to make four straight postseasons by being true to their draft process. Trust their draft board, not the draft board of some network analyst.  

If any draft pick(s) is (are) going to push them over the top to a first playoff win (or more) in 25 years, it’s not going to be one draft pick in the first round in this draft. It’s going to be players picked in the last three, four drafts. If any players are going to end the endless questions of January failures, it’s going to be the likes of quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, to name a few, and not one player taken No. 21 overall in this draft.

The Bengals knew coming into this draft that they needed to target the offensive and defensive lines early. Ogbuehi helps one side of the ball.

He wasn’t a sexy pick. That doesn’t make him the wrong pick.