Round 1, No. 11 overall: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
My take: It’s no surprise the Bengals didn’t take all of their allotted time with their pick of offensive linemen available. They got their guy. Selecting Williams gives the Bengals flexibility to craft their offensive line to their liking, and that’s key after several years of struggling to fix the unit. Williams played tackle at Alabama and it’s possible he could transition to tackle in the NFL, but he could slide over to guard as well if the Bengals need him to play there right away.
“He’s played three years in the best conference in all of football, did a great job at left tackle for them, certainly can play guard, he’s got great flexibility. He enables us to get our five best linemen on the field,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
A future left tackle?: It might not happen right away, but the Bengals might be eyeing Williams as their left tackle of the future. Taylor said they already have a plan in place for him. Right now, that just means to get him in the building and find him a spot, but the future could be even brighter. Right now Cordy Glenn is the starting left tackle and the newly re-signed Bobby Hart could start at right tackle, but that might not always be the case.
“He’s got three years of tape to prove that he can compete against the best, and (left tackle is) his most natural position. He’s done a great job there, but he gives us a lot of flexibility,” Taylor said.
A driven mindset: The Bengals loved Williams’ character and said he’s an A-plus addition to the locker room, so there’s no doubt they loved a story from his childhood. Williams walked 15 minutes to school in seventh grade and said he would wait outside the door of the weight room until they let him in. He said he has always had a drive to be better than anyone else. Later, he built a weight room in the basement of the house he grew up in so he could work out any time.
“I was walking to my middle school weight room at 5 in the morning trying to get workouts in, in seventh grade. That’s just kind of who I am, I’m just driven to do that,” he said.
What’s next: The Bengals still need a linebacker after releasing Vontaze Burfict earlier in the season. Both Devin White and Devin Bush were gone before the Bengals picked at 11, and there’s a big drop-off after those two. Expect the Bengals to try to snag a linebacker in the second or third round. Ideally they would get a prospect who could come in right away and play next to Preston Brown and Nick Vigil.