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Monday, August 10, 2009
Should Andre Smith start in Week 1?

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

As of Monday morning, there are only five unsigned first-round draft picks, and one of those rookies is Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Andre Smith.

Is anyone surprised?

Well, you shouldn't be.

Nearly every national media outlet, including the AFC North blog, predicted months ago this would happen.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is leaving the door open for Smith to have a chance to start in Week 1 at right tackle, which is a job Smith had all but locked up in the spring. But if this 11-day absence (and counting) goes much longer, it may be time for the Bengals to reconsider their options.

Backup tackle Anthony Collins has earned all of the first-team reps with Cincinnati this summer. The more camp Smith misses, the stranger it looks to simply hand the No. 6 overall pick the starting job in Week 1.

It is clear that Smith is the best right tackle for the Bengals in the long term. But for the short term, Smith's increasing absence could make Collins the best choice to protect quarterback Carson Palmer Sept. 13 against the Denver Broncos.

Unsigned first-round picks
No. Player Pos. Team
6. Andre Smith OT Cincinnati
8. Eugene Monroe OT Jacksonville
9. B.J. Raji DT Green Bay
10. Michael Crabtree WR San Francisco
11. Aaron Maybin DE Buffalo