No one asks the tough question like pull-no-punches Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. And so Cedric Ogbuehi got the Hue Jax treatment a few weeks ago during his pre-draft visit before the Bengals made him their first-round pick.
"He sat in the chair you're sitting in right now and I thought he handled it well," Jackson said. "I asked some tough questions…Probably (the toughest) was if he's willing to put his hand in the dirt and knock somebody off the ball.
"Coming from Texas A&M, and this is nothing against their style of play, they throw the ball extremely well and their tackles are known for their pass protection. We throw it, too, but at the end of the day I believe you defeat people running the ball and you have to be willing to have that mindset. Yeah, I liked the answer. You put that together with the tape and that's a heck of a player."
If you think offensive line coach Paul Alexander is excited, Jackson is just as ecstatic. He'll tell you that you never get premier pass protectors like this at the 21st pick. It takes, well, an injury.
"Holy cow, tackles are paramount," he said. "You've got to protect the quarterback and this guy has elite pass protection skills. We think he's got enough tenacity, enough girth, enough want to to do it the way we want. We think he's a really, really good fit. Long arms, tenacious. Smart. I think he understands how to play the game. He plays with a chip on the shoulder and that's how you have to play this game."
And he liked the answer.
This gallery features the Bengals 21st pick Cedric Ogbuehi OT - Texas A&M
CLINIC CLONE: B.J. Anderson, Ogbuehi's offensive line coach at Texas A&M, got a phone call a few weeks ago. Alexander flipped on his speaker and Anderson suddenly heard his old pupil on the line.
Ogbuehi had been parading through Paul Brown Stadium on his pre-draft visit and Alexander wanted to know how in the heck he knew so much of the Bengals' offensive line verbiage, like "club," and "feet before hands."
Oh that, Anderson told him. I basically stole it from you.
It turns out that Anderson has been coming to Cincinnati's nationally known offensive line summit known as "The Mushrooms Clinic," (the offense line flourishes in the shade of anonymity) for about a decade, where he has borrowed many of Alexander's techniques. Particularly in pass protection.
"I'm so happy for Ced because he should have gone in the first round, but I'm really excited about who he's with," said Anderson Friday afternoon. "The things Coach Alexander talks about will be very familiar to him being at A&M with me."
At least with Anderson, Ogbuehi hasn't watched tape of the Bengals tackles that have come up under Alexander. But in order to learn the protections and the techniques, Anderson has not only watched Willie Anderson, Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith, but also Anthony Munoz, the prototypical modern day left tackle that played for the Bengals before Alexander arrived 21 years ago.
While he was at the University of Houston before his A&M stint, Anderson remembered Alexander showing how lower hands instead of carrying them high were more effective in maintaining balance while punching.
"At those clinics I'd see the tape. He would show that. Most of the examples I saw were the guys you just mentioned. I saw exactly how to do it because those guys were so skillful at it," Anderson said. "He's had some good ones. That's why I'm excited about him getting Ced. He's one of the best line coaches in the country and I think those guys will be a fit together."
Anderson calls Ogbuehi "a football junkie," and says his I.Q. for the game is excellent. He has coached all over Division I in Texas for 19 years and even though he had two first-rounders the previous two years in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, he says Ogbuehi is the most athletic guy he's ever coached.
"When you first see him, he looks like a big tight end," Anderson said. "He's really good in the meeting room…whatever you tell him in the meeting room he goes out and executes it and if he ever gets in trouble he's athletic enough to get out of trouble…He understands concepts and schemes and does a nice job with communication."
Anderson and Ogbuehi are Friday Night Lights guys, Texas football through and through.
"He comes out of the Dallas area, out of one of the most storied programs our state has to offer, which is Allen High School," said Anderson who has traversed the Lone Star State from College Station to Houston to Sam Houston, to Stephen F. Austin. "He was a heck of an Aggie and great for Allen High School, where they've won several state championships. He was a pleasure to coach."
As for a minor back issue, Anderson said the Aggies simply made a change in his conditioning.
"We had him with modified weight room stuff," he said. "We didn't let him put a lot of weight on his back when he squatted. We made him do leg press. That was a modification."