Guard Clint Boling announced his retirement this week and it has shaken the Bengals fan base. It seems the team may have seen this coming but it is a shock to the rest of us that follow the team. Boling has been a stalwart at left guard for the Bengals since he became a full time starter back in 2012. He was the only sense of consistency on the offensive line after Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler left town. Boling never received the credit he deserved for being one of the better guards in the NFL on a year to year basis. The team must now decided how to replace the fan favorite.
Westerman will be my personal favorite to replace Boling at left guard. Ask just about any Bengals fan and they will tell you the same. Since being drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 Draft, Westerman has been quietly developing behind the scenes. Fans began clamoring for him to play in 2018 after watching the trainwreck that was Alex Redmond at right guard. Injuries gave Westerman a chance to see the field and he did not disappoint. A mauler in the run game who played better than expected in pass protection, he always found himself relegated back to the bench no matter how well he played. A new coaching staff may give him the opportunity to win the starting job at left guard with Boling gone.
2. John Jerry
Jerry was brought in as a free agent this offseason in order to boost the depth along the offensive line. A season ending injury to 2019 1st round pick Jonah Williams and the retirement of Clint Boling might force him into a starting role. Jerry is no stranger to starting in the NFL, despite not doing so since 2017. Playing for Miami from 2010 to 2013 and the Giants from 2014 to 2017, he started all 16 games in 5 of those seasons. Being the only real known quantity in this competition may give him the edge for the starting job.
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This may come as a surprise but Jordan is indeed a dark horse to step in at left guard. A 2019 4th round rookie, Jordan isn’t the first person people will think of to be competing for a starting role with two veterans. I wouldn’t have even included him here if it hadn’t been for this quote from offensive line coach Jim Turner. “(Jordan is) the extra guy you really weren’t planning on but now that Clint’s gone Mike is in the conversation as well,”. Maybe he isn’t the favorite but he is a monstrous 6’6″ 312 lb guard from Ohio State, a school known for churning out NFL talent. Don’t count the rookie out.
Hopkins has been the utility knife for Bengals in recent seasons. He played well at center last season while Billy Price was injured. I expect him to stay in a reserve role but continue to play plenty of snaps.
This may be the least likely scenario. I’ll throw him in because Turner mentioned him along with the other candidates to play left guard. All arrows point to Redmond taking a back up role at right guard behind newcomer John Miller after a disastrous 2018 season.