The Cincinnati Bengals just upgraded their offensive line—at least in theory. That’s what they thought last year, but the degree of improvement from the previous season wasn’t exactly comparable to the investment they made attempting to do so.
They’ve swung bigger this time, reeling in Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who came into the league with the Baltimore Ravens. Now he’s back in the AFC North and to a style of ball he’s familiar with—and to which he believes he’s suited.
“I feel like I’m more of an old-school player than anybody in the league right now”, he told the team’s website after signing. “That’s what makes me so different. Just my lack of athleticism, my size. I’m a chip off the old block. There are not a lot of guys out there like me and I’ve been below the line my entire career and my entire life, to be honest”.
Brown had an awful Combine by today’s metrics, performing very poorly virtually across the board. Even though scouts understood that he was not going to win any underwear Olympics medals, the numbers did hurt his draft stock and he ended up falling to the middle of the third round.
The son of the talented father bearing his name, and rather similarly framed, one could easily make the argument that the younger Brown would be better suited to playing in his father’s days. But he believes that mentality still translates today. After all, it did get him paid.
“I think what’s allowed me to put myself in this position is that old-school mindset that’s been instilled in me from my father, my mentor Jammal [Brown; unrelated] and it’s one of the reasons I’m here”, he added.
Beginning his career as a right tackle as his father was, Brown slid over to the left side in his third season when All-Pro Ronnie Stanley went down with an injury. The next season, he did not want to move back and requested to be traded to a team willing to give him the opportunity to play on that side after proving, in his mind, that he was capable.
They found a more than willing partner in the Kansas City Chiefs, with whom he continued to make Pro Bowls, yet they did decide to move on this season while paying even more money to another tackle than he got from the Bengals.
His time in Baltimore already made him familiar with some of the top pass rushers in the game, so that won’t be new to him. He has done well for himself throughout his career, though his run blocking in Kansas City’s system did not quite fit his strengths.
The Bengals will have to ensure that they are using him to the best of his abilities, and run blocking is one area in which they need to improve. They were one of the worst running teams in the league last season. And Joe Burrow took the sixth-most sacks in the NFL.