Cordell Volson

Bengals Not Planning To Try La’el Collins At Guard

With Orlando Brown Jr. now locked in at left tackle, a Bengals team that saw offensive line injuries sink its effort to book back-to-back Super Bowl berths is suddenly deep on the right side. Displaced blindside bastion Jonah Williams joins La’el Collins and Jackson Carman in a right tackle battle that is sure to garner attention from other teams.

Although Williams looks to have backed off his trade request, a trade involving one of the competitors could conceivably be in play. But the Bengals are not planning to try a potential “best five” scenario up front. A lineup in which Brown, Williams and Collins play together — with Collins sliding to guard — could be logical, as Collins has guard experience. But that is not expected to be a path the team considers, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

The Bengals return Alex Cappa at right guard and are not entertaining a potential demotion of Cordell Volson at left guard, Dehner adds, noting the team views the 2022 fourth-round pick as an ascending player. Brown is placing a priority on forming a rapport with Volson on the left side, and the latter was one of just two Cincinnati O-line starters — joining center Ted Karras — to remain on the field when the season ended in Kansas City.

Collins has a past at guard, coming into the NFL at the position. Falling out of the draft due to an off-field issue in 2015, Collins made his way into the Cowboys’ starting lineup at left guard during his rookie season. Dallas then began the 2016 campaign with the overqualified UDFA opposite Zack Martin. But a toe injury shut down Collins three games into the 2016 slate. That malady ended his guard run; the Cowboys moved the LSU product to right tackle in 2017. Collins stayed at that position in Dallas through the 2021 season, signing two extensions with the team. Following a 2022 release, Collins signed a three-year, $21MM Bengals deal.

This contract carries a $9.4MM 2023 cap number, and the Bengals can move on — via trade or release — for less than $2MM in dead money. The team was not thrilled with Collins’ debut, helping lead to the Brown pursuit, but the veteran has made 86 career starts. Collins, 30 in July, would seemingly be of interest to a tackle-needy team, should his recovery from December ACL and MCL tears go according to plan. Carman’s contract runs through 2024, making him a more cost-efficient backup to Williams. A 2021 second-rounder whom Volson beat out for the left guard gig, Carman finished last season as Williams’ replacement at left tackle.

Volson’s rookie deal runs through 2025, and he stands to make a logical left-sider next to Brown, who is tied to the most lucrative O-line accord in Bengals history. Pro Football Focus graded Volson outside the top 60 at guard last season, leaving some work ahead for the North Dakota State alum. But he remains the unquestioned Bengals starter at left guard, with Collins only a potential option in the event of an injury.

Latest On Bengals Left Guard Competition

The Bengals made a slew of additions along the offensive line this offseason, but one spot is still up for grabs in the build-up to the regular season. The starting left guard position has been a point of focus throughout spring and summer workouts, and will remain a battleground for the next few weeks. 

Jackson Carman, whom the Bengals drafted in the second round last year, registered six starts amongst his 17 appearances as a rookie, playing at both right and left guard. He earned a passable run-blocking PFF grade, but struggled in pass protection, leading to an overall grade of 56.3. While he was the starter at LG on paper following the draft, then, the door has been open to another name emerging to take the spot.

That contender has taken the form of fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson. The North Dakota State alum was named in May as the player who could displace Carman. The former’s performances in practice and the team’s first preseason contest has certainly caught the team’s attention, considering remarks recently made by head coach Zac Taylor.

“He flashes some really good stuff and it’s just the consistency there and learning from your previous mistakes,” Taylor said, via ESPN’s Ben Baby. He added that “by no means is that left guard spot solidified by anybody.”

Carman struggled, by contrast, in that preseason opener, and has now encountered another obstacle. Baby tweets that the Clemson alum tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The time he misses will give Volson further opportunity to receive first-team reps, as he already briefly had been prior to Carman being sidelined.

Cincinnati has left tackle Jonah Williamsalong with free agent signings Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins in place as starters along the o-line. The final spot could remain in the air up to Week 1 of the regular season.

Bengals Sign Cordell Volson, Finish Signing Draft Class

The Bengals have finished signing their draft class. The team announced that they have signed fourth-round offensive lineman Cordell Volson to his rookie contract.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman set a school record at North Dakota State University by appearing in 65 career games (including 41 straight starts). His consistency earned him a pair of Associated Press FCS All-America first team nods, and he also won four FCS national championships during his six years at the school.

At 23 years old, Volson was one of the oldest prospects in the draft; he redshirted his freshman season and opted to use his extra year of college eligibility in 2021. The Bengals ultimately used the No. 136 pick in the draft to select the offensive lineman, making him the 11th offensive tackle off the board. The rookie will join a long list of newcomers on the offensive line, but unlike some of those acquisitions (center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa, and right tackle La’el Collins), there’s little chance Volson starts, at least to start his career.

With this signing, the Bengals have officially completed the signing of their draft class:

Round 1: No. 31 Daxton Hill, S (Michigan) (signed)
Round 2: No. 60 (from Buccaneers through Bills) Cam Taylor-Britt, CB (Nebraska) (signed)
Round 3: No. 95 Zachary Carter, DL (Florida) (signed)
Round 4: No. 136 Cordell Volson, OL (North Dakota State)
Round 5: No. 166 (from Cardinals through Eagles, Texans and Bears): Tycen Anderson, S (Toledo) (signed)
Round 7: No. 252 Jeffrey Gunter, DE (Coastal Carolina) (signed)

Bengals Set To Complete Offensive Line Renovation

The Bengals fell just short of their first ever Super Bowl win in their third appearance in the league’s season finale. As the final seconds ticked away, analysts’ fingers started pointing, with many of them directed at Cincinnati’s lackluster offensive line. 

In their loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals fielded Trey Hopkins at center, Jonah Williams at left tackle, Isaiah Prince at right tackle, Hakeem Adeniji at left guard, and Quinton Spain at right guard. Hopkins and Spain are free agents, no longer on the roster. Adeniji and Prince retain their roster spots, but are no longer projected to start. Williams, perhaps the only bright spot on the line last year, will return as the blindside blocker.

The Bengals worked ferociously in the offseason to address their deficiencies on offensive line. They signed three free agent offensive lineman who are all expected to come in and start right away. Ted Karras comes to Cincinnati after starting experience at center in both New England and Miami. Alex Cappa comes to town after three strong seasons as the Buccaneers’ starter at right guard. La’el Collins is ready to bookend the line with Williams after years of starting experience at right tackle in Dallas.

With Karras at center, Collins and Williams at tackle, and Cappa at right guard, that leaves one position up for grabs. The current favorite to start at left guard is 2021 second-round draft pick Jackson Carman. Carman served mainly as a backup last year for the Bengals earning six starts on the year while playing in every game. The main concern with starting Carman is the fact that he couldn’t supplant any of the lackluster starters from last year. Perhaps with a year of NFL football under his belt now, Carman will blossom into a strong starter at left guard.

The other favorite to man the last spot on the offensive line comes from Cincinnati’s most recent draft class, according to Ben Baby of ESPN. The Bengals used one draft pick this year on an offensive player, bestowing that honor upon the 23-year-old tackle out of North Dakota State, Cordell Volson. Volson served as the Bison’s right tackle in his last college years, but had experience at all four guard and tackle positions during his time in Fargo. That versatility will certainly come in handy as many college tackles tend to move to an interior lineman position if they aren’t projected to dominate as a tackle at the next level. Volson is sure to give Carman a run for his money as the Bengals look to put the finishing touch on their full offensive line renovation.

All the players mentioned above are the favorites to contribute on the offensive line this year, but the following players will attend camp with the hopes of stealing a starting job. At center, Cincinnati also rosters Trey Hill, Lamont Gaillard, and undrafted rookie Ben Brown. At guard, the Bengals’ roster lists D’Ante Smith and undrafted rookie Desmond Noel. The only tackle on the roster that wasn’t already mentioned is undrafted rookie Devin Cochran.