Even if they can convince Carson Palmer to return, I think the Bengals should draft a quarterback somewhere in the 2-4 range (that’s rounds, not overall picks). I would have been fine with them grabbing a guy last year if they found one they liked because Palmer had already shown he is a head case with a sore arm, and I don’t expect either of those things to change.
This year they basically have to pick a quarterback, one to groom behind a decent veteran starter or Palmer, who basically fits that category anyway. That being the case, I am afraid they might reach for Cam Newton in the first round, which has disaster written all over it. Ryan Mallett is terrifying as well. Both are headcases not worth a franchise’s trust, although that doesn’t mean there is no chance they can develop into good NFL quarterbacks. I’d just rather someone else took that risk.
I think drafting a quarterback early is almost never a good idea (this will change if the owners get the rookie wage scale rehab they are pushing for). Even when they drafted Palmer, that was sort of a default pick. They couldn’t trade down, and there was no one else remotely qualified for the No. 1 pick. Plus they were in such bad shape from an overall roster standpoint, they didn’t have to worry about pushing him into action early to try to win.
The guy I’d really like to see them pick up is Colin Kaepernick. I think he’s worth a second-round pick as a guy with great raw ability and four years of starting experience.
A little later than that, I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a flier on Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder. Dalton is limited physically, but I think he could excel in the quarterback-friendly West Coast Offense new coordinator Jay Gruden is reportedly bringing in.