Sometimes a professional change sounds easier than when the actual transition takes place. One such conversation—be it on social media, podcasts, or otherwise—is the level of difficulty involved with an NFL offensive lineman switching positions and/or different sides.
Metaphors thrown out by those who cover the NFL range from legitimate to humorous (sometimes even blending the two), as we’ve seen players make switches to mixed results. Sometimes, a move from one side to the other works out well, though the sample size trends more towards a tackle kicking inside and the like. Other times, it just doesn’t click for a player—at least not right away.
This has come into focus for the Bengals with the acquisition of Orlando Brown Jr. As a four-time Pro Bowler, Brown Jr. has gained that distinct designation in years where he has played both right and left tackle.
And, as one of the Bengals’ newest acquisitions, as well as a guy who has made the offensive line switch with a high level of success, we asked him about it. In case you missed it, Brown Jr. joined us on The Orange and Black Insider last week.
“Man, there are so many different analogies, and you hear guys talk about it being like throwing a baseball with the opposite hand,” Brown Jr. said. “I don’t know if anyone has ever been in a real fight, but asking someone to fight in an opposite stance—it’s a super-uncomfortable feeling. From figuring out the timing of your punch, being able to step back on your jab—whatever it may be, your nervous system, the way you’re wired—it’s different.”
After playing left tackle at Oklahoma, Brown Jr. came into the league with the Baltimore Ravens as a right tackle. He made a Pro Bowl in his second pro season as a right tackle and then moved to left, making three Pro Bowls at that position with both the Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.
And, as you probably know by now, the left tackle position holds a special place in Brown Jr.’s heart.
“Moving from left to right is a lot easier, in my opinion, than it is moving from right to left,” Brown Jr. continued. “But, moving from the left to the right side, I’m having to change up, obviously, my initial stance. There are certain things I do as a right tackle that I don’t do as a left because those muscles are a lot more underdeveloped.”
Then, Brown Jr. truly got into some of the positional nuances making each side different from each other. This is where one can truly grasp just how different things are on each side.
“As a right tackle, I have to have my inside foot pointed more at the defender,” Brown Jr. said, expanding on the differences. “As a left tackle, I can have my inside foot pointing inside towards the football just because of comfortability. As a left tackle, I’m stronger and better in pass pro, but as a right tackle, I had to kind of develop the timing and develop a different type of game, if that makes sense.”
“So, I would just compare it to boxing, really, and someone asking you to fight in a different stance.”
Ironically, the tackle that Kansas City signed to replace Brown Jr. is undergoing a similar positional transition. Jawaan Taylor was a career right tackle in Jacksonville and is now reportedly being moved to the left side for the first time in his career.
And, Brown’s arrival in Cincinnati is seemingly pushing Jonah Williams to the right side after his playing left tackle since he was a freshman at Alabama. Reports say he isn’t pleased with the move, but it may be more than just positional notoriety.
Williams is in a contract year, regardless of where he plays in 2023. If it is at right tackle with the Bengals, there could be a semblance of “growing pains” on the other side this year, which could potentially hurt the numbers on his next contract, if there are indeed understandable issues along the way. This could be a major reason for his reported trade request, among others.
Regardless, Cincinnati is in a good spot on the offensive line. With Brown Jr. anchoring the left tackle spot, he joins last year’s free agent hauls of Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins. Cincinnati has to figure out the right tackle spot, be it Collins, Williams, or even a short-term starting stint from Brown Jr.’s Sooner teammate, Cody Ford.
Orlando Jr. has been passionate about diabetes research and aiding progress to battle the disease. He donated $50,000 to Kansas City’s Mercy Hospital for diabetes research and did a lot of work with that healthcare organization.
He is in the process of finding another new charitable endeavor, and we are hoping to raise funds for him while he identifies said cause. We are pooling money through Cincy Jungle and our Orange and Black Insider podcast channels and will donate them to the cause he identifies in the near future. You can donate through our YouTube channel’s “Super Chat” function, or via Venmo @OrangeAndBlackInsider.
Our HUGE thanks to Mr. Michael Portner of Delta Sports Group and to Mr. Brown Jr. for the opportunity to speak with the new star tackle!