On NFL Countdown just now Adam Schefter reported what many of us suspected - Mike Brown wanted to draft Ryan Mallett in last year's draft but was "swayed" By Jay Gruden "and others" to pick Andy Dalton instead. This comes right on the heels of reports that the Carson Palmer deal was supposedly almost dead in the water the night before the trade deadline but Katie Blackburn was instrumental in resurrecting talks and convincing her dad to make the deal.
I've been using this as a hypothetical argument for why this team could be legitimately turning the corner for months now. Ryan Mallett had Mike Brown written all over him. Huge arm, body size, questionable character that dropped him out of the top 10. He just SCREAMED "Mike Brown draft me!" and I don't think any of us would have been terribly surprised if that had happened...particularly if Dalton had come off the board to Indy or Seattle or Buffalo. This isn't to knock Mallett. Personally, I think Mallett landed in the perfect spot for him. He gets to sit behind Tom Brady for a few years and get all of the ego knocked out of him by Bill Belichick before taking a snap, at which point I think he could be a pretty good heir to Brady. But here, he would have been a disaster. He doesn't have a 10th of the mental poise and maturity that Dalton has. He might have been able to make a few more 60 yard throws by now, but he would have been doing them in desperate comeback attempts and he'd probably have thrown 15+ interceptions by now...all on the way to likely being replaced next year with another high draft pick and washing out of the league within the next 3 or 4. Not to mention, uncertainty surrounding the QB spot would have probably shut down the trade talks for Palmer.
So this should give all of us a lot of hope, especially given the bounty of draft picks we have in the next few years. This says that Marvin Lewis is in the driver's seat along with a front office staff that seems to actually value solid football decisions over pure money considerations or pride. By being swayed on this one very crucial decision, Mike Brown enabled the team to draft a true franchise QB, saved future high round draft picks for supporting talent, opended the door for the blockbuster trade of the decade with Oakland that will only add more top tier talent, and demonstrated a new mindset in how personnel matters are being handled at PBS.
Give this team a few more scouts and a shared lease on UC's indoor practice facility and there is nothing standing in the way of them rising to the top of the AFC over the next few years.