Bruce Gradkowski Move Strengthens Cincinnati Bengals Draft Rumors

By Simon Greene

About a month back, I heard a rumor that the Cincinnati Bengals would be looking to draft a quarterback in this years’ NFL draft, something that at first I was pretty skeptical about.

For one, the Bengals have had veteran backup Bruce Gradkowski for the past two seasons and he seemed to be doing exactly what should be expected of a backup–holding down the fort when things go wrong. Although he was 13-for-29 in those two seasons, the offensive line were doing their job of protecting starting quarterback Andy Dalton, so there was not a big need for him to do much.

Secondly, the Bengals have had 26-year old quarterback Zac Robinson on the practice squad for about two seasons now. Although he has never taken a snap in the NFL, Robinson have given the Bengals the hope that he could be useful given time, and would hopefully have a back-up role in years to come.

With the new development that Gradkowski was allowed to move on from the Bengals, signing a 3-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Robinson is nowhere near ready to be on the active roster, the rumors are soon to start again that the Bengals are looking for a quarterback in this year’s draft.

The talk has already begun that the Bengals will seek a replacement in the free agency pool, with the current front-runner (according to rumors) being former New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Brian Hoyer. Though he is one of the top quarterbacks in the free agency, there is probably a high price tag that comes with him, so this seems unlikely.

Next on the list, if the Bengals choose not to take a free agent (and I really hope they don’t) is this years’ draft class. Although there has been a lot of talk that this year’s quarterback pool is pretty shallow, the Bengals are looking for a backup to Andy Dalton and some of these players could be exactly what they need.

Last week, Lucas Greta of SB Nation reported that the Bengals attended the Syracuse Pro Day, where they also set up a meeting with the fifth-ranked quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, Ryan Nassib. This could mean that they will take him with their late second round pick, although it’s quite possible that they are using tactics to attract attention from their true motives.

Another possibility in this years’ draft would be to draft a late-round or free agent quarterback from the draft. According to SB Nation’s Josh Kirkendall, the Bengals QB Coach Ken Zampese was to attend Western Michigan University’s pro day, where Alex Carder, a quarterback that is expected to be a late-round or even an undrafted free agent had his work out. A developmental quarterback is something that the Bengals do not need, as they already have on in Robinson, so it will need to be an early round QB or free agent.

I will hazard a guess on this and say that the Bengals will draft a quarterback in one of the mid-rounds, someone like Oklahoma’s Landry Jones or Miami of Ohio’s Zac Dysert. Both prospects are expected to be drafted around the fourth round and both viable options for the Bengals as backup. The next few days will tell us what they intend to do.

Be sure to follow Simon Greene on Twitter @simongreene88

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