However, the one spot on that line that hasn't been overly impressive is the starting center. With Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, Clint Boling at left guard, Kevin Zeitler at right guard and Andre Smith at right tackle, the pressure on centers Kyle Cook and Trevor Robinson to perform was never significant.
Cook was released during the offseason, while Robinson remains to compete for the starting spot with Mike Pollak. Now Russell Bodine will look to put his name in that competition and win the starting spot at center.
Even though he was only selected in the fourth round, the Bengals must feel confident in his ability because they traded up with the Seattle Seahawks to select him. The Bengals gave up a sixth-round pick to jump up 12 spots and take Bodine with the 11th pick of the fourth round.
Bodine was a two-year starter in college. At the combine, he measured 6'3" and weighed 310 pounds. He had the most bench reps of any center with 42 reps and he also had a big 29' vertical. Bodine is very young, just 21 years of age.
Even though the Bengals are in search of a starting center, Alex Dunlap of Bleacher Report doesn't see him as anything more than a developmental prospect:
Bodine flashes well on tape very often with 'traits,' but not with consistency or even truly good, sturdy play. In fact, at times, he can appear to be a liability—even at the NCAA level.
Bodine is a project who NFL teams will not draft to start right away, but who may serve as good depth while developing in an NFL system and building upon his truly unique, outstanding and natural explosive gifts."
The first thing you notice about Bodine on the field is his strength. He has a punch that will be able to knock professional defensive linemen to the ground and the anchor to seal off running lanes. Many NFL centers don't contribute much in the run game, but Bodine should be a major positive in that area.
He can advance to the second level as a run-blocker and locate linebackers in space, but he won't have great range or the the pull to move toward the sideline.
He is versatile, having seen time at center and guard in college. He consistently finishes plays and plays with a mean streak that should fit well in the AFC North. Each of the opposing teams in the AFC North have big defensive tackles on the inside. Bodine's strength will make him valuable in those matchups.
Bodine lacks the lateral quickness to be trusted in space. That is not something that is likely to improve regardless of how well he develops technically. For the Bengals, that may not be a major concern because they have the offensive guards to protect him.
He had the slowest three-cone time at the combine of any offensive lineman.
Awareness is something that teams look to for slower offensive linemen, but that's not something Bodine shows on every snap. He lacks the consistency you would like in any potential starter. Maybe better technique could help him feel more comfortable on the field and improve his awareness.
While Bodine is very strong, that strength also works against him at times. He is too quick to lean forward and try to engage defenders. This is something that happens to many top-heavy centers, but it's also something that can be rectified with better technique.
Bodine is definitely a developmental prospect, but because of where he is landing he could also become an instant starter. Mike Pollak is the favorite for the starting spot in Cincinnati, but Bodine's strength and ability to contribute as a run-blocker should make him a threat to that spot.
The Bengals also needed a versatile interior offensive lineman and Bodine can be that player.