Bengals Confident Jackson Carman Can Compete for Starting Spot at Guard

Former Clemson offensive lineman Jackson Carman is headed home after being drafted by Cincinnati in the second round of the NFL Draft and the Ohio native was all smiles after hearing the news.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told the media that the first thing he did was welcome Carman home.

“I told him, ‘Welcome home.’ He made a comment that he’ll be there quickly,” said Taylor. “I’m unclear if he’s here in town or back in South Carolina, but he sounded like a guy who’s very excited to come to Cincinnati.”

Carman joins former Tiger teammate Tee Higgins with the Bengals, however, the fact the two used to be teammate did not really factor into the decision according to Taylor. What did factor in was the fact that Clemson is known for having their players NFL ready once they arrive in the NFL.

“We take all the information we can get,” Taylor said. “It’s not the deciding factor, but we weigh everything we can find. Having great conversations with Coach Dabo Swinney down in Clemson, he’s really helped us with Tee and Jackson. I feel like we’re in position to get some good players out of those programs, and it’s paid off for us.”

Taylor, who is headed into his second season as head coach of the Bengals, said it was not only Carman’s freakinsh athleticism, but also his high football IQ that drew Cincinnati to the former Clemson left tackle.

“Yes. I think he has tremendous athleticism,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of things we like about this guy. He can anchor, pass protect, and has great movement in the run game. He has high football intelligence. In talking to him over Zoom the last few weeks, it’s really impressive how quickly he’ll walk in and understand the schemes. He’s just a really impressive person when you talk to him.”

The organization also loves how experienced Carman is when it comes to playing on the big stage. Taylor also noted that Carman would move over to guard now that he’s in the NFL.

“He’s got great experience,” Taylor said. “He’ll come in and compete at guard for us. He’s played a lot of tackle at Clemson. We feel good about the position flexibility there, but he’ll come in and compete at guard right away.”

How Carman will fare with the position change remains to be seen but Taylor and the Bengals like the fact that he was cross-trained by offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell at Clemson and are confident he will adjust rather quickly.

“That’s the question, because all the game tape is him playing tackle,” Taylor said. “From conversations with guys down there, they cross-train all guys down there. So he gets a lot of work at guard as they develop younger guys at tackle. He has plenty of work there. In conversations with him, he feels comfortable playing wherever you need him on the line to make sure we get our best players on the field. I know he’s excited for the competition. We’re ready to get him back in the fold.”

Make no mistake, the Bengals did not draft Carman to be a depth guy and Taylor said he is hopeful that the rookie will push for a starting spot right away.

“I don’t want to make any predictions, but we’ll see how quickly (Carman) can adapt to life in the NFL, Taylor said. “I certainly think he’s going to compete for an opportunity to be a starting player for us.”

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