The 2013 NFL Combine is in the books and the analysis has begun. Players are moving up and down draft boards around the league, while fans and the media try to figure out what teams are thinking and planning to do, with every word spoken and action taken by the team examined endlessly. From press conference speeches to who teams speak to becomes fodder and rumor to be discussed ad nauseum. This phenomenon reared its head at the end of the combine when it was revealed that the Cincinnati Bengals had spoken to quarterback and possible first overall pick Geno Smith. This has prompted many fans to believe the Bengals might be in the market for a new QB, likely as a replacement for Bruce Gradkowski, the backup to starter Andy Dalton or even as a new starter if Dalton doesn’t improve. Should the Bengals be in the market for a QB in the upcoming draft?
Andy Dalton seems to be relatively safe in his role as starter, at least for this season. Since being drafted two years ago, the Bengals have enjoyed back to back trips to the playoffs, which hadn’t happened in the approximately 30 years prior. Both postseason appearances have resulted in losses to the Houston Texans and Dalton’s performances in both games left something to be desired but getting there is quite an achievement. He has drawn the ire of fans for his lack of a consistent deep ball and his propensity to take unnecessary sacks but the team continues, for now, to stand behind him and will almost certainly see if he can improve over the final two years of his rookie contract.
The backup QB spot could definitely be upgraded. Gradkowski is a limited QB and if Dalton were to be injured, there would be a marked drop-off in talent and the team could look to improve there. Gradkowski is a respected player but his 6-14 record as a starter and his numbers over the course of his career show that he struggles as a starting QB. His leadership and veteran presence would be missed but a talent influx at the number two QB spot is never a bad thing.
The mostly likely reason for the Bengals talking to the highest ranked QB in this draft class, especially since he likely won’t be available when the Bengals pick anyway, is that they were just doing their due diligence, talking to the possible first overall pick. If the Bengals do decide to select a QB, it likely will only be a mid-round pick if a player they like falls to them. This year’s QB class is very unpredictable and it seems as though every one of them could go anywhere from the first round to the third. If the right player does fall a little, especially in that third round, the Bengals should take the chance and draft him. He might be no better than a slightly upgraded backup, but then again, he might be the answer if Dalton fails to develop further. It’s worth the risk.