Position group breakdown: A closer look at Bengals’ offensive line (2024)

Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and Cordell Volson also return to fill the interior and look to provide consistency after that trio started every game last year.

Let’s take a look at the past performances of the Bengals’ offensive linemen, and how they are expected to stack up in 2024 with help from some analysis and data from Pro Football Focus. This is the fourth in a series of pieces breaking down each position group for the Bengals. Next up: Defensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN ON THE ROSTER

Projected starters: Orlando Brown Jr., Cordell Volson, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, Trent Brown

Reserves: Devin Cochran, Cody Ford, Matt Lee, Amarius Mims

Others in the mix: Jackson Carman, Trey Hill, Nate Gilliam, Jaxson Kirkland, Eric Miller, D’Ante Smith

ORLANDO BROWN BY THE NUMBERS

2023 stats: Started all 17 games, lining up for 97.3 percent of team’s offensive snaps (1059 of possible 1088). On Nov. 5 vs. Buffalo, helped limit Bills to one sack while pass protecting for Joe Burrow, who passed for season-high 348 yards on 44 attempts. Allowed seven sacks for the season.

PFF grades for 2023: Brown ranked 45th of 81 qualifying tackles with an offense grade of 66.1 last year. He was 44th of 81 tackles in pass block grade (66.6) and 51st of 79 tackles in run black grade (57.1).

PFF ranking for 2024: He is ranked the 30th best offensive tackle going into 2024.

VOLSON BY THE NUMBERS

2023 stats: Started all 17 games at left guard and played every offensive snap. Against the L.A. Rams, he lined up primarily against DT Aaron Donald while blocking for offense that totaled 309 net yards in win. Allowed five sacks for the season.

PFF grades for 2023: Volson ranked 42nd of 79 guards with a 58.3 offense grade. He was 64th of 77 guards in pass block grade (46.7) and 24th of 79 guards in run block grade (64.0).

PFF ranking for 2024: Not among the top 32 offensive guards who were ranked.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

KARRAS BY THE NUMBERS

2023 stats: Started all 17 games and played 1,075 of a possible 1,087 offensive snaps (98.9 percent). Blocked for an offense that totaled 491 yards, including 156 rushing, on Dec. 4 at Jacksonville with Jake Browning at quarterback. Allowed six sacks and had just one penalty.

PFF grades for 2023: Karras ranked 15th of 36 centers ranked by PFF with a 67.4 offense grade. He was 11th of 36 centers in pass block grade (69.6) and 22nd of 36 centers in run block grade (64.2).

PFF ranking for 2024: He ranks as the eighth best center in the league going into 2024.

CAPPA BY THE NUMBERS

2023 stats: Bounced back from a 2022 season-ending injury to start all 17 games at right guard, playing 1,067 of a possible 1,088 offensive snaps (98.1 percent). On Dec. 10 vs. Indianapolis, helped O-line allow zero sacks while run blocking for 111 team rushing yards.

PFF grades for 2023: Cappa ranked 24th of 79 guards with a 64.9 offense grade. He was 43rd of 77 guards in pass block grade (58.6) and 18th of 79 guards in run block grade (67.3).

PFF ranking for 2024: He ranks as the 21st best offensive guard in the league going into 2024.

TRENT BROWN BY THE NUMBERS

2023 stats: Brown had been playing at a high level at left tackle for the New England Patriots last season before injuring his ankle in an Oct. 22 win over the Buffalo Bills and then attempting to play through it the next week in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. He started only one more game the remainder of the season, reportedly having fallen out of favor while publicly expressing his displeasure with the organization. He finished with 11 appearances and eight starts, playing 581 offensive snaps (85 percent) while allowing three sacks and picking up two penalties.

PFF grades for 2023: Brown ranked 11th of 81 qualifying tackles with an offense grade of 80.2 last year. He was 27th of 81 tackles in pass block grade (72.8) and seventh of 79 tackles in run block grade (80.7).

PFF ranking for 2024: He is ranked the 27th best offensive tackle going into 2024.

FURTHER ANALYSIS

PFF has the Bengals offensive line unit ranked 21st of the 32 teams, down four spots from last year. The Detroit Lions have the top-ranked group.

Zoltan Buday, who compiled those unit rankings for PFF.com, highlighted the attention Cincinnati placed on replacing Williams at right tackle but noted a drop-off in performance in Orlando Brown’s first season with the Bengals in 2023. A better season for him might have resulted in a better ranking.

“The Bengals double-dipped at offensive tackle this offseason, signing Trent Brown in free agency and selecting Georgia’s Amarius Mims in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft,” Buday wrote. “But the unit also needs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to get back to his old form. The former Chiefs and Ravens lineman earned a career-low 66.1 PFF grade in 2023, which ranked just 45th among offensive tackles.”

Trent Brown is ranked three spots ahead of Orlando Brown in Buday’s single-player rankings for offensive tackles, despite Trent Brown failing to play at least 600 snaps for the fourth time in five seasons. That stat right there is why the Bengals need to bring along Mims more quickly than might seem necessary as he ideally can settle into the league learning behind two veteran tackles.

The Bengals still have a good one in Trent Brown if he stays on the field. Buday wrote that he had three separate games — at Jets, vs. Bills, at Giants — in which he earned an overall grade of at least 88.0 and no other offensive tackle had more than two such games. Buday still included Orlando Brown Jr. in his rankings, despite career lows in his grades last year, based on what he did his first five NFL seasons and how reliable he has been.

Thomas Valentine, who wrote the single-player rankings for centers and guards, credited Karras for earning a 72.0-plus pass-blocking grade in nine regular-season games in 2023 and called him a worthwhile addition for the team in 2022.

At guard, Valentine only ranked Cappa among the top 32, calling him a “solid, if unspectacular, addition” since he signed in 2022. His overall grade was slightly lower in 2023 than 2022, while allowing a career-high 35 pressures last season, but “is still a credible pass-blocker and a strong enough run-blocker,” Valentine wrote.

The Bengals still have faith in Volson’s ability to continue developing in his third season but with interior defensive linemen improving he has to as well.

Position group breakdown: A closer look at Bengals’ offensive line (2024)
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