Cincinnati may look at a lesser known player for their right tackle of the future.
They say it’s a deep class for offensive linemen, so let’s get to know one of the guys who makes this class so deep.
Dillon Radunz didn’t commit to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in 2016 to play offensive tackle. The Becker, Minnesota native played on both sides of the ball and originally planned to play defensive end for the Bison. The 18-year old was just 265 pounds at the time, per 247 Sports, but he was already 6-6 with plenty of room to get stronger. After a redshirt freshman season, Radunz did exactly that eventually found a permanent home at left tackle.
Now 23, Radunz is coming off a strong Senior Bowl showing and pro day workout after starting 32 consecutive games for NDSU. He will follow the footsteps of Billy Turner and Joe Haeg as the next starting lineman to come out of that program; it’s just a matter of how early he’ll be drafted.
School: North Dakota State
Position: Left tackle
Weight: 301 pounds
Projected Round: Second
So why is Radunz going to be just the third NDSU alum to go in the top 64 picks in the last 30 years? You may’ve heard this from somewhere, but the NFL always needs quality offensive linemen. And the guys who play and move at Radunz’s size don’t last long, no matter how talented the class of his peers is.
It’s Radunz’s movement skills that really stand out. Even against low-level competition, you can tell he’s got the quickness in his kick-slides and in the open field that will translate against other top athletes. This is what helped him limit opposing rushers to just two quarterback hits in over 200 true pass sets from 2018-2019.
Dillon Radunz Pro Day results
40-yard dash: 5.12
Vertical jump: 32”
Broad jump: 9’4”
Short shuttle: 4.57
Bench press: 24
For his density, Radunz has incredible explosion and flexibility with average speed. His three-cone time is basically one of the best we’ve ever seen from an offensive lineman, and his broad jump is also above the 90th percentile for all three main o-line positions. Getting out of his stance and is so easy for Radunz, and he covers a lot of ground without much effort.
There have been many athletic linemen in the past that didn’t pan out in the NFL, because most of them couldn’t match power and redistribute it. That’s not a problem for Radunz. He consistently unlocks his hips and generates movement in the ground game. It doesn’t hurt that he’s accustomed to finishing defenders in the ground more times than not.
This aspect of his game was on display at the Senior Bowl in January. He was so impressive against top competition in Mobile (at both guard and tackle) that he was named the practice player of the week.
He could definitely add some more mass, but Dillon Radunz can drop the anchor and withstand power. pic.twitter.com/OYAE8dsLBL
— Inside The Draft (@Jacobkeppen) March 24, 2021
Unfortunately, that week in Mobile is the only time we got to see Radunz against legitimate NFL talent, and that will likely be what keeps him out of the first round. It’s tough for most small school prospects to rise that high in the draft, but projection is what clubs like to avoid. Radunz doesn’t just have that stigma from a competition standpoint, he may also be viewed as a guard for some teams, a position he’s never played before in an actual game.
But those knocks aren’t in Radunz’s control. The things he can control, however, is his aggressiveness and balance. He can over-extend at times both as a pass blocker and a run blocker. When facing players who have no chance at playing in the NFL, this won’t hurt you as much as it will against players playing for money. Radunz has to be taught more controlled aggression at the next level, which is absolutely feasible with the right coach (cough-cough-Frank Pollack).
Fit with the Bengals
A glaring hole persists at the right guard spot on the Bengals’ offensive line. Whichever lineman the club picks early in the draft, you have to think he’ll be the favorite to start at that spot. Radunz can absolutely start year one at right guard, sandwiched between two veterans in Trey Hopkins and Riley Reiff.
Standing at 6’6” with 34” arms, Radunz has the body of a tackle, and that can also work in the Bengals’ favor. If Reiff isn’t retained by the team in 2022, a hole at right tackle will open up and Radunz can slide outside to be Jonah Williams’ long-term bookend tackle. He wouldn’t be the first tackle to start his career at guard, and he won’t be the last.
The Bengals are interested in Radunz because, let’s be honest, they’re interested in any living soul that’s an offensive lineman. The team sent personnel members to watch Radunz’s pro day back in March, and whenever they take a chance on a small-school prospect, they usually saw them perform well at the Senior Bowl.
Radunz has immediate short-term and promising long-term potential with the Bengals. If the board falls a certain way, he could be a prime option for their second-round pick. If the team decides to trade back in the second round for the fourth time in five years, there’s a good chance he will still be available.