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Hobson: Don't Reach in the Draft

Carson Palmer wants out, Cedric Benson and Johnathan Joseph are free agents, half of the Bengals safeties are free agents, and Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco may find themselves in different uniforms when the 2011 season starts, if it starts. It's needless to say that the Bengals have a lot of holes to fill in the 2011 NFL Draft.

But, even though that's the case, Geoff Hobson warns, on the mothership, that it isn't wise for the Bengals to reach for picks.

You can't take a quarterback at No. 4 just because you need a franchise quarterback. He better be there. The same holds true in every round, where the Bengals could draft for need on each pick. But they need to be careful that need doesn't make them reach.

The Bengals should spend their No. 4 pick (and the millions of dollars that go along with it) on a player that's guaranteed to make a difference in the long run. I know what you're saying: there are no players that are guaranteed to make a difference. Correct, but there are players that are much more likely to be a bust than others, and quarterbacks have a high potential bust factor.

Even though the Bengals may in desperate need of a quarterback come the draft, they may find that drafting the best players at different positions is the best way to go. They chose to draft Andrew Whitworth instead of exciting Chicago Bears return man, Devin Hester. They drafted Rey Maualuga over the Seahawks Max Unger, even though they needed a center, because Maualuga was rated higher. If they had reached for need in the 2010 draft, they may have missed out on a slew of players.

And in a sense they did that last year when they didn't overpay on a trade up to get USC safety Taylor Mays in the second round. At various points the Bengals would have had to give up the picks that turned into defensive end Carlos Dunlap, wide receiver Jordan Shipley and defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Dunlap led AFC rookies in sacks, Shipley led AFC rookie wide receivers in catches, and Atkins had three sacks, most by a Bengals defensive tackle since John Thornton had three in 2008 and 2004.

In other words, if Palmer retires because the Brown family refuses his trade demands, and the Bengals realize their up crap creek without a quarterback, they shouldn't waste their No. 4 pick on one if there isn't a quarterback worthy of that pick. What we should hope for is that the Bengals and Palmer fix their broken relationship or the NFL and the NFLPA avoid a lockout and come up with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement so the Bengals could try to find a quarterback in free agency if they need to.