With each passing day, the Bengals seem to be more focused on acquiring a new quarterback at the top of the draft.
On Sunday, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com observed that the team is clearly looking to add Carson Palmer’s replacement. Now, Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has quotes from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden that make obvious the team’s search.
“I want a guy who can speak up and people can rally around, that’s half the battle right there,” Gruden said, possibly implying that their current quarterback doesn’t possess those skills. “You have to at least sell that you’re good and you believe that the play can work even though it may not. Whether or not he is reading the same way I would teach read is not important as long as he has a general idea about defenses and progressions which 90 percent can do. I want to see their charisma and leadership skills and how they communicate.”
But it’s no given that the Bengals will go with a quarterback at the top of the first round, with the fourth pick. They’ll possibly wait until they exercise the 35th overall selection, also known as the third in round two.
“You want a guy in the fourth spot that is going to be a game changer next year, a guy you can build a franchise around. We can go in a lot of different directions. I know on offense we can,” Gruden said.
It may not be a bad strategy. No rookie quarterback seems to be ready to step right in and play. And when the Bengals picked Palmer nine years ago, they didn’t thrust him immediately into the fray.
The smart move may be to take the best available athlete with the fourth pick, and then the best available quarterback with the 35th. Another alternative, if the labor situation is resolved, would be to ship Palmer and the 35th pick to a team that drafts in the second half of round one, in the hopes of getting their guy. Absent a new CBA, no current players may be traded.