Ogbuehi's selection continues a long line of future-looking draft picks by owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis. Like most of the first-round picks before him in recent years, Ogbuehi won't have to see the field as a rookie if things go according to plan.
It's a great thing, too, considering Ogbuehi is the middle of recovering from a torn ACL, a factor that played a large part in his falling to No. 21 in the first place.
Ogbuehi suffered the injury in January's Liberty Bowl against West Virginia, but before the injury, he was widely hailed as one of the draft's top players.
This applies to Lewis and offensive line coach Paul Alexander, as NFL Network's Albert Breer captures:
Lewis spoke highly of his new first-round pick after selection, per ESPN.com's Coley Harvey:
Recovery is the first step for Ogbuehi, which solves a pre-draft problem for the Bengals—where was such a deep team going to find playing time for a high-impact prospect, anyway?
The early plan seems to be to give him as much time as he needs to recover. He might be an immediate starter as a sophomore, though.
|Cedric Ogbuehi's Notable NFL Scouting Combine Numbers|
|Height||Weight||Hands||Arm Length||Bench Press (reps)|
|6'5"||306 pounds||10"||35 ⅞"||23|
Both left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith head to free agency after next season. It's hard to figure out how the situation plays out.
Whitworth, coming off of one of his best years as a pro (he ranked as the No. 2 tackle in the league at Pro Football Focus), will turn 34 in December. On the other hand, Smith ranked No. 47 on the same list in nine games before suffering a season-ending injury.
Thursday's selection gives the team some breathing room down the road. A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson are just a few of the names headed to free agency after next season, so Ogbuehi provides options if the coaching staff believes he's ready to ascend to a starting role on either edge of the unit.
He figures to be more than ready if his recovery goes well. Ogbuehi's an elite prospect at the position in every sense of the word, and his weaknesses detailed in Lance Zierlein's conclusion at NFL.com are coachable offenses he'll have an entire year to improve:
NFL evaluators are very worried about Ogbuehi's core strength and ability to anchor in pass protection, but some of his anchor issues could be improved with technique work -- especially where his hands are concerned. He should be a plus run blocker, especially on stretch plays, but needs to add strength and work on technique if he is to reach his play potential.
Cincinnati could have gone a few different ways at No. 21. Perhaps many wanted to see an impact player such as Kentucky edge-rusher Alvin Dupree (who went No. 22 to Pittsburgh), or perhaps a big-play wideout such as Breshad Perriman (who went No. 26 and also stayed in the division with Baltimore).
While Ogbuehi doesn't offer the same instant impact as other prospects, in the long term he might turn out better than most. He lands in the perfect situation to recover and grow while learning from one of the league's best in Alexander.
It's hard to find fault with the Bengals for the pick. This is the same approach the team has employed in the first round for years and it continues to work, so why stop now?
In time, Ogbuehi might wind up the steal of the class in the first round. Had he not suffered the injury, Cincinnati wouldn't have a player formerly considered a top-10 pick at No. 21.
Any way sliced, the Bengals hit their first-round pick out of the park.