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Bengals LG Cordell Volson Has A New Fan In His New Left Tackle: 'Pro Bowl Potential With Size And Mental Makeup'

(Left to right) HB Joe Mixon, G Cordell Volson and OT Orlando Brown Jr. run during Phase 2 Training at Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 24 2023 in Cincinnati Ohio.
(Left to right) HB Joe Mixon, G Cordell Volson and OT Orlando Brown Jr. run during Phase 2 Training at Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 24 2023 in Cincinnati Ohio.

New Bengals left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who played next to an all-decade player in Baltimore and a Pro Bowl selection in Kansas City, believes his next left guard has a ceiling as tall as 6-7 sophomore Cordell Volson.

"He's got that Pro Bowl potential with his size and mental makeup," Brown says of Volson after one of the voluntary practices before next week's mandatory minicamp. "I think he really uses his height to his advantage. His mindset and his length are two things that are really going to separate him in the long run.

"I think he has the natural talent and ability to become one of the best in the league at what he does."

Brown is the Bengals' big lightning strike of the offseason, a premier left tackle with four Pro Bowl berths and a Super Bowl ring who knows what an NFL left guard is supposed to do.

Six years ago he broke into the league next to Ravens eight-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda before moving to the Chiefs and tag-team partner Joe Thuney, the $80 million Centerville, Ohio, native and briefly the highest-paid guard in NFL history.

Now Volson is learning from both via Brown as he looks to vault from a promising rookie year he played all 1,107 snaps after the Bengals took him in the fourth round.

"(Brown) gives me tips on how those guys would do some things," Volson says. "He'll say, 'Marshal did this,' or 'Joe did that.' It adds tools to the toolbox and maybe it works for me and maybe it doesn't.

"It's always interesting and cool to hear the perspective of guys who have done it somewhere else. See the way they do things. You can see it from the 30,000-foot view."

You don't have to be that far away to see Brown's personality is as massive as his 6-8, 363-pound self as he establishes himself as a veteran voice in a locker room that's not so new to him anymore. After one recent practice, you needed wheels to keep up with him.

Before plopping down between wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, he'd been on the other side of the locker room conferring with Volson at their adjacent lockers. OTAs began Monday, but even though the helmets came out, the offensive and defensive lines don't line up against each other until training camp.

So it's the perfect time for new linemates like Brown and Volson to get on the same proverbial page. It's new for Volson, too, because he took most of those snaps next to Jonah Williams, now a right tackle.

"Both are extremely smart guys. I'm really thankful to have played next to Jonah. I learned a lot from him and Orlando brings the same kind of thing," Volson says. "(Brown has) been great. He's one of the best tackles in the league and to have him play next to me, it gives me a ton of confidence. It allows me to play fast. He's great for our team."

It may appear the linemen aren't doing much this week and next. That's what it looks like since 7-on-7 is the rule of the spring. But they still try to connect out there on their own isolated patch of grass.

"It's a good time of year to be refining fundamentals," Brown says. "Get the timing of your double teams down. Get down to details because we're not scheming up the defense. It gives me time to talk to (Volson), see what he's seen, which allows me to feel what he's feeling and we can get to the point where there's an understanding even if something isn't communicated. He really loves the game. He studies."

Brown, 27, makes no secret about being a student of the game. He looks at Volson's frame and immediately has a frame of reference. At 6-3, 305 pounds, Yanda is two inches shorter and eight pounds lighter than Volson and he was much faster than anybody around. Brown saw how length can work with the 6-5, 304-pound Thuney; even he's not as big as Volson.

"Take some of the best guards, your Joel Bitonios, your Zack Martins (both 6-4), Brown says. "Thuney has got that natural ability to play in space a little bit more than the other ones because of his length and that's one of the pros of Cordell's game. His length. It will be more beneficial to him in the long run than hurt him."

Brown says Volson has such a unique body type that he's probably closest in frame to 6-5, 313-pound Pro Football Hall-of-Fame guard Steve Hutchinson. Brown isn't saying Volson is going to Canton, but he is saying he knows how to use a unique frame.

(That's an impressive call by Brown, considering Hutchinson retired in 2012, six years before Brown came into the league.)

"Joe is somebody who is a taller guard and a little lighter than Cordell. Marshal was a lot shorter and a lot lighter than Cordell. But some of the things, as far as the way they did their fundamentals, whether it be in the timing of their hands and feet in the run game, the way they fit some of the double teams, no matter the height of those persons trying out those techniques they're going to be able to do it," Brown says. "A lot of times it's just me communicating how they approached it. Their mindset and process. However he nit-picks it and takes it to his game, being such a different body type is going to help him. He's going to cover a lot of space in shorter steps."

Volson has a laundry list of improvements for his sophomore season:

"Better hand placement in pass pro. Better strikes. Better hand fits. Getting into some fits quicker in the run game. Staying rooted. Keeping a good demeanor in the run game."

He's already got a new fan.

"How many games did he play his rookie year? Twenty? Right, twenty," says Brown who knows what a left guard looks like. "That's why they played him. I respect his game a lot and his approach."