When the Cincinnati Bengals made Michael Jordan the 136th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they trusted what second-year offensive lineman Billy Price told them about a player he lined up next to for two years at Ohio State. Price was the Bengals’ first-round selection a year prior and was named to the Pro Football Writers Association all-rookie team last season. Before that, he was the 2017 Rimington Trophy winner and a unanimous All-American for the Buckeyes, so he knows a thing or two about offensive linemen.
“We have a player that we invested in with Billy that felt had all of the things necessary to rate as a first-round pick,” Cincinnati offensive line coach Jim Turner said. “And to have a guy like that in the building that can give Michael a character reference is great. He’s been there with him in those battles. It’s very helpful to us.”
Jordan wasn’t the first offensive lineman the Bengals took in the recently completed draft. Cincinnati selected Alabama’s Jonah Williams in the first round, as the team looks to rebuild following a 6-10 season and third-straight year without the playoffs. This offseason, the Bengals parted ways with longtime head coach Marvin Lewis and brought in Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback coach Zac Taylor as the team’s new head coach.
Under Taylor, who was part of the Rams’ revolutionary offense that saw LA make it to the Super Bowl last year, Cincinnati hopes to improve on a 2018 season that saw the team finish 26th in the NFL in total offense and with the 21st best rushing attack. Taylor and his staff plan on fixing that facet of the team and having a solid offensive line is where that starts.
“You’re going to have to be able to run the ball in the league,” offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. “The best teams at the end of the year do that well. It sets up everything. I believe the offense runs through the offensive line. The offensive line takes you as far as you want to go. If they’re moving people off the ball, that helps us mix in the play actions, the screens to attack defenses. Without making any proclamations, we’re going to want to run the ball and run it well.”
The Bengals believe they found a player in Jordan who will help them accomplish that.
After starting all three seasons at Ohio State, Cincinnati knows they are getting a talented player. They are also getting a guy who successfully played both guard and center at the college level, something Price did as well.
“We moved up and took Michael Jordan, a center/guard from Ohio State,” Callahan said. “We love his position versatility. He can play all of the interior spots. He’s big and has size and athleticism. He checks all of the boxes for us… He’s a really good player and has everything we’re looking for on the interior of the offensive line.”
“Those inside players, when they’re big, it helps. He (Jordan) has that width,” Turned followed up. “One thing I love in players on the line is width. They have the body type to be a big mass inside. He’s got that. The other big thing for him is intelligence. He’s a smart player. He started his freshman and sophomore year at guard. When Billy Price got drafted here last year, there was a hole in the middle (at Ohio State). They took him going into his junior year and made him the center. They don’t do that often. They obviously respected his intelligence.”
For Jordan, the wait on draft weekend was probably a little bit longer than he wanted given that he left the Scarlet and Gray with a year of eligibility remaining. But in the end, things happen for a reason. Despite playing high school football in Canton, Michigan, Jordan and his family are originally from the Cincinnati area and he grew up cheering for the Bengals.