Now that the Senior Bowl is over, most draft analysts, including Mel Kiper, have taken quarterbacks Jake Locker and Ryan Mallet out of their top-25 big board (you can see Kiper's big board on ESPN In$ider). Many of you liked what Colin Kaepernick did while practicing with the Bengals coached North Team but it's fairly unlikely that he worked his way to a top-five pick. And then there's Blaine Gabbert, who many believe is the best quarterback coming into the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, he never played in a pro-style offense while at Missouri which keeps him out of the top-five draft picks as well.
Kiper has taken Washington’s Jake Locker and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett out of his top 25 and he does not have a quarterback among his top five. Carolina has the top pick, but the early indications are there isn’t a quarterback worthy of that choice. With strong interviews and good workouts at the combine or in private, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert may be able to rise.
Let's face it. Now that Andrew Luck has decided to stay at Stanford for his senior year, the quarterback draft class in 2011 just isn't that good. That's bad news for a team whose franchise quarterback wants a trade. The CBA situation just makes it worse by potentially not allowing the Bengals to search for Palmer's replacement in free agency. The Bengals are definitely in a sticky situation.
So, what are the Bengals to do? It's fairly obvious that drafting a quarterback in the first round is going to be out of the question. None of the quarterbacks this year are worthy of the Bengals No. 4 overall pick. Fortunately, that opens the Bengals back up for a guy like A.J. Green, DaQuan Bowers or Nick Fairley (if they're available) with their first-round pick.
Maybe they could draft a guy like Locker or Kaepernick in the second round if they're still on the board but what's that going to do for the Bengals in 2011? That would only give the Bengals a rookie who's probably not ready to take control of an NFL offense. There are way too many holes in the Bengals roster to draft a quarterback in the second round; they need a safety, defensive lineman, offensive lineman, a linebacker (possibly), a running back (possibly) and a cornerback (possibly). Do the Bengals really have the luxury of drafting a quarterback in the upcoming draft? If they don't, could they be taking the chance of having Jordan Palmer take the snaps in 2011 if his older brother follows through with his plans to retire?
They're stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I think the best thing to do from this point on is to make sure that Carson Palmer is happy enough to change his mind about leaving Cincinnati. Of course, if he does leave and the Bengals don't draft a quarterback or have the ability to sign a free agent, there's always the chance that they'll be in the running for Andrew Luck next year.