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I think that most Bengals fans, if not all of them, wanted this team to find a better option than Kyle Cook before the 2014 season. Kyle had his flash in the pan season, but those days have come and gone. Recently he has been more like one of those revolving doors in the Chiquita center, than he has been an NFL linemen. In the end he was not strong, or big enough to get any push on the mammoth NTs that he went up against in the AFC North.
We all knew the solution would have to come in the draft; it’s not in this team’s typical workings to make a splash in free agency. This year’s draft class was talked about as being thin at the Center position, and I was worried that would cause a real issue for the Bengals. The top Centers would most certainly be over drafted, the buzz about the top Centers was at a quiet roar by draft week. The Bengals did the right thing and waited for a guy that they liked to fall in their lap. They had a third round grade on Russell Bodine and Paul Alexander really, really wanted this guy. As he slid into the middle part of the forth they traded up to get their guy. They had an extra sixth round pick and with this roster that pick was unlikely to make the final 53 anyway. According to the Bengals draft board, it was a good value to move up, but questions remain for Paul Alexander. Can he harness this incredibly strong, but raw man-beast and turn him into a road grater?
He is incredibly weight room strong he had the max bench reps with 42 at the combine. He is a high character player with no red flags, went to a military academy. Bodine embraces the role of being one of the “Big Uglies” in the trenches. He is not afraid to mix it up and protect his teammates, has a nasty streak and plays through the whistle. He has the ideal size for an NFL lineman, is a big barrel chested man with great speed for his size. Workout warrior, he had top marks at the combine for bench press and vertical leap. No real injuries in his history, he is durable and tough (I saw his leg/ankle get rolled up on in a game, he missed a play and went back in). He is great at getting to the second level but struggles to connect on those blocks. He has a strong plant to stop the initial push from DT, seals off well in the running game for backside runs. He is a versatile player that can play G or C if needed, although I think the Bengals see him as only a Center for this year. Has experience in running silent snap counts, which is a critical asset in todays NFL thanks to Peyton Manning. Is better in a man blocking scheme then he is in a zone blocking scheme, he is a smart player so I think he just needs to be coached up here.
He lacks ideal agility, struggled with his cone drill times at the combine (slowest 3 cone time). He doesn’t use his size to his advantage as much as he could, settles with the cut block too often. Can let his pad level get to high and get push off the point of attack. Overextends himself and loses leverage on the play. Sticks to his block a little to long sometimes leaving his guards with no secondary help. When he has to move a lot getting to the second level for screen plays and pulling for sweep plays, his poor mechanics cause missed blocks. Lacks ideal recognition of who he should be blocking on the second level when reading the defense.
Key plays vs. Boston College:
1) He completely whiffs on his block and gives up a sack 3:45 (2nd play Breakdown below)
2) Get’s out well on the screen play, but misses the block downfield that would have sprung the TD (5:00) (1st play breakdown below)
3) He makes a good block to lead the run play and pushes the DT off the POA. He finishes the block by driving him into the ground. (5:45) (3rd play breakdown below)
4) He does a good job of selling the run then getting out on the screen, but misses his block on the second level. This is unfortunately something that recurs in his tape and something the Bengals need him to do well. (7:14) (4th play Beakdown below)
5) He pulls with the guard but misses his block and runs over his own guy (7:43)
6) He makes a good weak side seal on the play and allows the QB to escape the pocket for positive yardage. (7:53)
7) He holds his block and seals the DT to the strong side alley, allowing the run play to develop behind him for the TD. (8:20)
2) Screen play breakdown that uses the Silent snap count
1) Missed block that causes a sack breakdown
3) Bodine wins the POA on the run play
4) Bodine smoke screen play breakdown
Key plays vs. Virginia Tech:
1) He pulls left to lead the run sweep and connects on the block knocking the defender down. (1:07) (gif below)
2) He gets beat to the outside of his block, it forces the QB to scramble and get tackled for a loss. Holding was called on him during the play too (2:08)
3) Successfully chips the DT and gets out in front of the screen play. Finds the closing LB in traffic and cuts off his angle to the RB allowing him to get by and break off a big play. (2:22)
4) Wins the point of attack (POA) on the short yardage QB sneak,(something the Bengals need) allows the QB to get the first down. (3:17)
5) Seals the A gap to the left and wins the POA pushing the DT back. The run play is able to follow through the alley created behind him. (3:35)
6) Shows off his upper body strength, shoving the defender engaged with the RG to the ground. (3:55) (1st Play breakdown below)
7) He doesn’t hold his block long enough on the WR double reverse play. The defender sheds him and forces the WR to cut back inside and is tackled for a loss. (4:15)
8) They are in a diamond offensive set (pretty much declaring run) that is a variation of the pistol or T formation. He wins the POA on the DT and allows the RG to finish the block. Aggressively works to get to the second level and blocks the LB, creating an alley for the play. (4:28)
9) He misses his block and gives up the QB sack. The very next play he gets knocked down and his defender tackles the RB in the backfield. (5:15)
10) He makes a good cut block of the DT and opens a hole for the RB. (8:08)
11) He gets blown off the POA and pushed into the QBs lap, giving up a QB sack. (8:15) (He does get his ankle rolled up on the play. He toughs it out and plays the rest of the game.)
12) He does a good job getting to the second level and cutting the safety in the run play. (11:30)
Game Summary: This was the worst game of his that I watched. He really struggled with the exotic defenses that Boston College threw at them. Part of this could have been that his teammates were making the mistakes though. They did start two freshman next to him. If it was him that made the errors he will really have to put his nose in the book and get in the film room. The Steelers and Ravens are known for their exotic looks, cutting edge defensive fronts, and blitz packages. They didn’t line up over him much in this game and made him move to get to the POA. When he got there he did fine but he definitely struggled initially.
1) Bodine makes a quality pull block on the run sweep
6) He assists with the block on the RG and knocks the DT down using his brute strength. This is definitely a play that Paul Alexander saw and it has him licking his chops!
1) He does a good job on a left side pull block of locating the defender and cutting him successfully. I would still prefer to see him stay up in these situations and bull guys over. In this case his cut was effective so you cannot really fault him. (1:12) (1st Play Breakdown below)
2) He loses the POA badly and is pushed back collapsing the pocket around the QB. The pressure in the face of the QB forces an earlier throw and missed opportunity on the big play downfield. (1:22)
3) He does a good job of making the initial contact and then passing off the block to the RG. This allows him to help the LG that was starting to lose his seal. (1:45)
3) He is moved to LG and has a good back side chop block of the DE in pursuit. (2:37)
4) He is pulling to the right from the LG position. He does a good job of getting in front of the play, but does a poor job of recognizing the person he should block. He blocks a whole lot of air and the play goes for no gain. (3:42)
5) He allows himself to get way to upright on the play, then gets blown off the POA right from the start. Luckily the QB throws the ball quickly and avoids the sack. Talk about being put on a pair of skates…that is this play in a nutshell. (3:53)
6) He has a good stretch of plays on a series that leads to a TD. It is capped off with a good cut block and a good chip of the safety on the scoring play. (5:53)
7) He moves back inside to play Center (6:05)
8) He does a good job of getting to the second level and keeping the LB away from the ball carrier. (9:41)
9) He properly gets out on the screen play and forms a wall with the guards. The RB cuts back inside instead of following the block for a big gain. No fault of Bodine’s that the RB made the improper read. (11:37)
10) In another instance of his poor downfield recognition he gets ahead of the screen play, then proceeds to block no one. (12:24) (2nd Play breakdown below)
11) He makes a good cut blow on the DT allowing the QB time to turn the corner on the designed QB run. (13:17)
12) He gets too aggressive and overextends on his block, causing him to lose the POA and get beat. (13:57)
Game Summary: This game did show you a few of the big reasons that the Bengals had Bodine high on their board. He played both LG and C in this game, and he showed his raw strength multiple times. He controlled the point of attack most of the game and especially in the second half. His main areas of concern were his missed blocks and inability to decipher which guy to block on some of his pulls and screen get outs. There were only a few times the whole game were he lost the POA badly and Cincy had a pretty good run defense this year. The versatility that he showed in this game allows the Bengals flexibility down the road. If a elite center falls in their lap in the draft or FA he can slide over to guard.
Here are two quick videos showing Bodine with the opposite extremes on the POA. One with him winning convincingly; the other he is put on skates:
Reminder: He is the Center on the left play, and the LG on the right one.
1) Bodine successfully pulls left and seal off the defender:
12) Breakdown of Bodine pulling and missing his blocking assignment:
This is the pick that I think will surprisingly define this draft class. If Paul Alexander can make the rough edges on Bodine’s game shiny this draft could be a huge haul. It will provide a buffer in case Clarke doesn’t pan out or Hill gets himself in trouble (although he has looked very grounded so far). Bodine definitely has the build and strength to be a top Center in the league. He is a perfect fit for what the Bengals want to do this year; punch you in the mouth, then do it again.
He will benefit from the 3-4 schemes that all the other teams in the AFC North run. The NT will almost always be lined right over him, unless they are in an exotic front. Then it will simply be the question can you transition your incredible lifting strength onto the field. I think we have to trust Paul Alexander’s eye for talent, he got his guy now he needs to mold him into his next Anthony Collins. The best thing about Bodine is the Bengals drafted a strong, prototypical build, with big upside at Center. It’s not likely that a rookie Center will receive promising marks if you put a lot of weight into Pro Football Focus plus/minus system, as Paul Dehner pointed out earlier this week. The one thing I can say is most of the Centers that are drafted high enough to start are on bad offensive lines. This surely contributes a bit to their low numbers. With the guys around him I think Bodine will grow quickly. He is a very smart player Paul Alexander and his fellow linemen are singing his praise already.
“He’s had a good spring. He’s really mature for a young guy. Smart. He knows football. He’s really been very impressive. The center is the brains of the operation. And he can do that.” –Paul Alexander
“(Bodine) has the characteristics we are looking for in a center. It’s not that Trevor (Robinson) hasn’t, we just put him in there for right now. He’s got to get the ball to the quarterback right. He needs to do a better job of snapping the ball. He can’t play center if you don’t snap the ball correctly. He’s working at it and he’s done a good job. But he’s got to become a little more consistent on an everyday basis.” -Hue
“He’s picking stuff up quickly. For somebody who has only been live in the offense for two weeks, he’s definitely improving every day. He knows the situation. He’s not freaking out about it. He’s taking it in stride and he’s taking it to heart.”- Kevin Zeitler
After just a few days with him I would say those are some pretty high praises from the three most important people he needs to impress. The guy to his right in the trenches, his OL coach, and his OC.
I think the ideal situation is he gets the lions share of the snaps in the preseason, as guys get healthy. He then can sit behind Pollock in the beginning of the season and when he is ready send in the steamroller. At that point Pollock and Boling can fight over the LG spot. Is he going to make some plays this year that make you want to pull your hair out? I’d bet my 401K on it. Is he going to plant some guys on their asses paving the way for Gio or Hill to break off for a huge gain, I’ll bet my 401K on that too. The Bengals obviously have a plan and Bodine fits that plan, the Bengals don’t trade up…ever; yet they traded up to get a guy that throws up 225lbs like the rest of us throw back 12oz curls tailgating at PBS. That in itself should tell you something this guy has some major potential.
Leave your comments and feedback on the article below or tweet me, I welcome discussion on the article or other Bengals draftees
These screenshots came from videos from draftbreakdown.com
Special Thanks to Andrew Q Follow @codiki for adding extra videos for this article.
Shot out to my guy Animal_like_me for helping me to stave off the grammar police.
Combine stats and measurements courtesy of NFL.com