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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals draft offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi

Cedric Ogbuehi
Cedric Ogbuehi

National Football League (NFL)’s Cincinnati Bengals have secured the depth on their offensive line and believe they added a tackle of the future by selecting Texas A&M and Nigerian-born Cedric Ogbuehi with the 21st overall selection, Thursday night, in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder tore his ACL in the Liberty Bowl in December – which pushes back counting on his impact immediately – but would rank among the best pass-blocking tackles in the draft.

Cedric Ogbuehi is what NFL left tackles are supposed to look like. Tall, lean, athletic and with huge arms and hands, he’s right out of central casting. Ogbuehi is a fluid, impressive athlete with experience playing guard, right tackle and left tackle at Texas A&M. He’s an athletic mover in space and can quickly get to the second level in the run game or to the corner in pass protection.

He uses his length well when engaging defenders and has the feet to slide, mirror and match defenders. He’ll finish blocks in space and can ride defensive players out of the play. You won’t find many offensive linemen with his athleticism, length and agility.

An ACL tear suffered in the Liberty Bowl has limited Ogbuehi‘s predraftprocess. He had to drop out of the Senior Bowl and was not able to participate in most drills at the combine. The A&M staff credited him with allowing seven sacks in 2014, and you can look at his struggles with timing at left tackle as a reason.

The Bengals felt his injury and the team returning all of its offensive line starters offered them the luxury of finding a player others undervalued because of injury concerns.

“I freaking love him,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. “This guy has rare feet and athleticism that you see in the very best offensive lineman in the league. No chance we get this guy if he doesn’t get hurt.”

Ogbuehi played defense until late in his high school career and eventually manned four different positions at A&M. The Bengals believe that with his rare athleticism, he could play any of the five spots on the line in the NFL. He arrives as the eventual heir apparent to one of the tackle positions long term.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, 33, and right tackle Andre Smith are both in the final years of their contracts – which opened up the need for an offensive lineman. The Bengals needed only to make sure the progress on Ogbuehi’s knee injury was on track to know that this would be a perfect fit for what they desired.

“You do as much as you can,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “The doctors look at the operative reports and MRIs with a player like that. We had him here. He was at the recheck. We feel he’s right on track for a great recovery.”

As for whether he will be able to contribute this season, there was little doubt in the confident voice of Ogbuehi.

“I’m going to play this year,” he said, adding that he hopes to be ready by training camp. He’s currently jogging while doing light lateral movement and jumping.

Of all of the top tackles, Ogbuehi had the longest arms at 35 7/8, allowing his reach to pop rushers coming off the edge.

Ogbuehi started as a sophomore at right guard, then moved out to tackle in 2013 as a junior. He played left tackle his senior season and earned First Team All-SEC honours before the season was cut short due to the ACL tear.

“You watch the film and you say ‘Wow’ a lot,” Alexander said. “He’s quick as lightning. You don’t get a shot at tackles very often. If you get a shot at tackles you have to take them.”

Offensive and defensive linemen the Bengals liked disappeared off the board early in the first round, as the league transitioned toward the trenches. University of Miami tackle Erick Flowers went to the New York Giants at No. 9, and 339-pound Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton went to Cleveland with the 12th pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took Bud Dupree of Kentucky one pick after the Bengals took Ogbuehi.

All of those picks were high on the Cincinnati draft board, but they went with their highest ranked player in Ogbuehi.

“He’s a huge man, big long length and huge span,” Lewis said. “You watch how he protects all the time and he’s violent as a run blocker.”

Born on April 25, 1992, in Allen, Texas, United States, Ogbuehi played college football at Texas A&M to parents; Nigerian Chris Ogbuehi and Kelly Ogbuehi.

Meanwhile, another team the Eagles on Thursday night, drafted in Southern California’s and Nigerian-born Nelson Agholor. He becomes the first wide receiver the Eagles selected in the first round since 2009.

The Eagles tabbed Agholor with the No. 20 overall pick after they could not move up to acquire Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“Real versatile guy, real smart guy, really understands the game,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “Can line up anywhere.”

Kelly showed significant interest in Agholor throughout the pre-draft process. That included a visit to the NovaCare Complex and a private workout in Tampa, Fla., where the Nigerian native was raised

Cedric Ogbuehi is what NFL left tackles are supposed to look like. Tall, lean, athletic and with huge arms and hands, he’s right out of central casting. Ogbuehi is a fluid, impressive athlete with experience playing guard, right tackle and left tackle at Texas A&M. He’s an athletic mover in space and can quickly get to the second level in the run game or to the corner in pass protection.

He uses his length well when engaging defenders and has the feet to slide, mirror and match defenders. He’ll finish blocks in space and can ride defensive players out of the play. You won’t find many offensive linemen with his athleticism, length and agility.

An ACL tear suffered in the Liberty Bowl has limited Ogbuehi‘s predraftprocess. He had to drop out of the Senior Bowl and was not able to participate in most drills at the combine. The A&M staff credited him with allowing seven sacks in 2014, and you can look at his struggles with timing at left tackle as a reason.

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