The Bengals have a big offseason ahead of them. It’s the first year of the Zac Taylor era after the team finally fired Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons. Cincinnati has Andy Dalton at quarterback, but they might not be sold on him as the longterm answer. As such, the Bengals could very realistically use their first round pick on a quarterback, according to a panel on NFL Network (video Twitter link).
Bengals owner Mike Brown recently said the team wasn’t in any rush to extend Dalton and indicated the TCU product would need to prove himself this season, so this isn’t too surprising. Last week we heard that Dalton, who ended last year on injured reserve after undergoing thumb surgery, would be fully healthy for the offseason program.
On the panel, Mike Garafolo said he talked to other teams picking near the Bengals, and stated “other teams are watching them saying ‘that is a potential landing spot for a quarterback.'” Garafolo points out that quarterback needy teams like the Dolphins and Redskins pick after the Bengals, and there’s a good chance they’ll need to jump ahead of Cincinnati if they want a signal-caller.
One interesting nugget that could bode well for Dalton is that the only top quarterback the Bengals have brought into their building for a visit is N.C. State’s Ryan Finley, according to Ian Rapoport. Finley “has a shot at being a second rounder,” Rapoport says, but isn’t a realistic option for the Bengals with the 11th overall pick. The Bengals could draft Finley sometime on Day 2 and let him be the backup initially without having a quarterback controversy on their hands.
That being said, that doesn’t mean the Bengals won’t draft a passer who they haven’t hosted on an official visit. Rapsheet notes that the team “spent some time” with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins around his pro day, and he could be a target if he slips to them. Thanks to having five sixth round picks, the Bengals own 11 picks overall in the upcoming draft, and they will be one of the more interesting teams to monitor in Nashville.