Originally written on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 11/19/14

As the old adage says, the game of football is won in the trenches. And in the past few years, as the Bengals have improved their drafts, they have done a better job of selecting those trench warriors who move earth and make the skill players we like look good.

Yesterday I looked through the guys currently on the roster on the defensive line, the pivot point of the team. Today I want to hop sides of the ball and look at the guys on the offensive line.

While the O-line still isn’t as deep as the D-line is, the Bengals made several moves to improve themselves from the group that walked off of the field in Houston back in January.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE. The Bengals typically keep four OTs. They currently have five on the roster, plus any pending UDFAs.

  • Andrew Whitworth: had a small step back in 2011, but still the anchor of the line.
  • Andre Smith: made a nice step forward in his third season first full season on the field without injury, but he needs to improve again if he wants to land another contract.
  • Anthony Collins: the perennial backup has starter quality. We will all be glad that the Bengals got him back if Whit or Andre misses time with an injury.
  • Dennis Roland: will never be a starter, but a decent fill-in/spot play guy.
  • Matthew O’Donnell: a huge (6′ 9″ tall, 340 lb)  guy who will have to push his way past Roland to avoid another season on the practice squad.

CENTER. The Bengals keep just one, asking one of the guards to be prepped as the backup center.

  • Kyle Cook: he isn’t Rich Braham, but you have to be impressed with what the Bengals have gotten out of a guy who was a UDFA at one point.

OFFENSIVE GUARD. The Bengals typically keep four OGs. They currently have five on the roster, plus any pending UDFAs.

  • Kevin Zeitler: the more I read about this kid, the more I like him. Big Bobbie’s successor should be a contributor to this team for a long, long time.
  • Travelle Wharton: should be better than his 2011 PFF rating. (Playing in front of an unconventional QB like Cam Newton skewed his grades.) Definitely an upgrade from Nate Livings.
  • Jacob Bell: not exactly the veteran acquisition fans were hoping for, but the coaches seem to think there is something left in his tank. Geez, I hope they are right, because I see more of a mess than a mass.
  • Clint Boling: the selection of Zeitler changes the trajectory of Boling’s career for the next few years from projected starter to back up.
  • Otis Hudson: the 5th round pick did not make it into a game last year. He has to beat out Bell if he wants to avoid the practice squad.

At first glance, this group does not stand out as dominant unit on paper. But we need to see what Wharton and Zeitler can do to improve the running game. With a little more punch from the line and a little more pop from the RBs (anyone else noticed that Cedric is still unsigned?), they could be just good enough.

Paul Alexander and Jay Gruden have to field their best 5 guys every game, no matter who they are. If Andre Smith hasn’t taken another big step forward by the end of camp, they cannot be reluctant to start Collins instead. Bell cannot make the squad simply because he is a veteran. They need a clear strategy and the guys that best implement that strategy. If they do, we will all be happy with the results.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Belichick: Garoppolo has better understanding of NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lionel Hollins: 'Honored and blessed to coach Kevin Garnett'

Curt Schilling gives Johnny Manziel advice on Twitter

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

Andre Johnson willing to take pay cut with Texans?

Mets star David Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

Frank Gore: Colin Kaepernick is 'not broke'

The story of Morgan Bulkeley and birth of National League

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things the world learned about the NBA on Christmas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Year's most notable sports media stories

'Roberto Gronkowski wishes fans Feliz Navidad

Are the Seahawks back on track?

Wright reaches out to slain officer's sons

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.