Reid Fragel of Ohio State could be the mid-round diamond in the rough for the Cincinnati Bengals this year.
Currently, the Bengals still have plenty of holes to fill via the draft. The positions of need that have been highly debated are running back, safety and linebacker. Cincinnati will most likely take care of all three of these holes by the end of the second round.
However, these positions do not contain the player that the Bengals must draft this year.
One other position that has been linked as a need for the Bengals is offensive tackle. With right tackle Andre Smith still floundering around in free agency, it could be time for Cincinnati to move on.
Recently, a statement by Smith's agent was released claiming that the Bengals contract offer "stinks" (via NFL.com). Being so close to the draft and so far apart from a deal could force Cincinnati to look at a replacement via the draft.
Fragel, at a towering 6'8" and weighing in at 308 pounds, has a perfect frame for an offensive tackle—that is saying something since he is actually a converted tight end.
At Ohio State, Fragel played in all of his four seasons—never missing a game to injury. He played mostly on special teams his freshman year, started five games as a sophomore, four as a junior and played all 12 as a right tackle his senior season.
His transition from tight end to right tackle was not very difficult for him. He was used as mainly a blocking tight end in a run-based offense before the move.
Fragel was interviewed at the combine about difficulties in his transition (via Dayton Daily News).
I’d say it was the pass pro footwork. Coming from tight end, it was a little different. The run game was always natural to me. I was a blocking TE and a lineman at heart so to speak. So that came a little more naturally. But the pass pro took a little more time. I feel more and more comfortable as time goes on.
There is some cleaning up to do in his technique and footwork, but he seems to be very strong at the right tackle position and could even make an immediate impact with the right tutelage.
Despite Fragel's athletic build, he has room to grow and gain weight to anchor the right side of a line. He is very aggressive at the line of scrimmage and can knock defensive ends backward. On the perimeter, he can shift quickly and force defensive ends around the outside of the pocket.
On the interior, he has a great lateral move that stuffs an inside rush. He picks up interior blitzes well and does not get drawn to the outside by the defensive end. Plenty of athleticism allows him to cut off linebackers to create holes for a ball-carrier. He has quick recovery ability if he takes a wrong step off the line and has a very quick initial burst.
His largest weakness is his lack of experience at the position. He needs to develop his technique to be more consistent at right tackle. However, if he had been playing this position for multiple years, there is a chance he could be a first-round selection based on sheer upside and athleticism.
Currently, Fragel is considered to be a fifth-round selection (via CBS Sports). However, now that there has been more time to study this unique prospect, he could elevate to a fourth-round selection—which is great value for a potential starter.
One reason why he has not been shooting up the draft boards is his absence from the Senior Bowl due to injury. He was interviewed at the combine about what he has to prove and about his injury that led to that missed opportunity (via Dayton Daily News).
I think that I’m ready. It’s something I wanted to do at the Senior Bowl and unfortunately wasn’t able to do. But I think after this week’s over, I think you’ll see that I possess a lot of strength and speed and there’s a lot of tread left on my tires. Whereas some of these linemen might be worn down a little bit more. I think my best football is ahead of me.
I rolled my ankle training out in Arizona. It was unfortunate. But it was best for me not to go.
Despite missing the Senior Bowl, Fragel had a great combine and was a top performer in the bench press (33 reps), vertical jump (30") and broad jump (113") at his position (via NFL.com).
He has already garnered interest from the Bengals—it was announced Wednesday on Twitter that he had an appointment already set up with the team (via SB Nation).
The Bengals have had a great knack at finding a diamond in the rough in these mid-rounds. Fragel could most certainly be that guy for them in 2013.