Cincinnati Bengals: Injury bug claims talented rookie Jonah Williams

On Tuesday, the word out of Bengals camp was that of sadness. Jonah Williams, the Bengals’ 2019 first-round pick, has undergone surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The surgery and respective recovery time projects that Williams will miss most, if not all, of the 2019 season.

The injury to Williams comes in a long line of the Bengals’ recent first-round picks failing to make much of an impact in their first season. Based on a count by ESPN reporter Field Yates, three of the last four Bengals first-round picks have missed significant portions of their rookie seasons. 2018 first-round pick, Billy Price, missed six games. 2016 first-round pick, William Jackson, missed the whole season. 2015 first-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi missed 11. The notable exception to this group of recent first-round picks is speedster John Ross, who famously played 17 snaps in his rookie season.

It goes further back than 2015, actually. In a recent tweet, The Athletic‘s Joe Goodberry pointed out the crushing list of ailment-prompted shortages of action time for the Bengals’ first-rounders dating back to 2012.

Williams had been penciled in as the starter at left tackle for the Bengals this coming season. With Bobby Hart receiving much criticism from fans and the media alike, it seemed like Williams was going to supplant him as a starting tackle for the Bengals. However, with this crushing news from the Bengals, Cincinnati might be forced to start the oft-maligned Hart. Another option is sliding the current starting left guard, Cordy Glenn, into the left tackle role.

According to Ian Rapoport’s reporting, those inside the Bengals facility had referred to Williams as a “stud” in OTAs. It is a devastating blow for the Bengals to lose one of the key pieces in their attempt to protect Andy Dalton in this season.

While the surgery and recovery time will cost Williams most or all of the 2019 season, he is slated to make a full recovery and should be the Bengals’ starting left tackle in the 2020 season and beyond. Once thought of as one of the top three choices in the 2019 draft, Williams slipped down to the 11th pick where the Bengals were able to scoop him up.

As a whole, the Bengals need to prioritize the offensive line during training camp so they can field a competitive team in 2019. Without a halfway decent line, Dalton might return to being mush like he was for the 2018 season, and the Bengals could stumble to be last place finish in the ultra-competitive AFC North. If it gets too bad for the Bengals, they could be in play for the number one pick of the 2020 draft, which would likely be a quarterback.

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