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NFL Draft: Is Mallet a Mid-Round Possibility?

Carson Palmer's poorly timed trade demand could possibly really stick it to the Bengals. In a worst case scenario, the NFL and NFLPA don't agree on a new CBA before the March 4 deadline and the NFL goes into lockout mode, effectively killing free agency. Mike Brown decides not to trade Palmer and Palmer, staying true to his word, retires. Without a CBA, the Bengals can't pick up a new quarterback in free agency. They draft one and by the time the NFL and NFLPA come to an agreement, the NFL regular season is a couple weeks away and the only quarterbacks the Bengals have on their roster are Jordan Palmer, Dan LeFevour and a guy who's never stepped foot on a professional field. BOOM. The Bengals season would be over before it began.

Before you jump off a cliff, let's look at another scenario. The NFL and NFLPA miraculously come to an agreement in the next few days and avoids a lockout allowing free agency to continue. Mike Brown still says no to Palmer's trade demands (we both know that's what he's going to do) and Palmer still retires. However, the Bengals are able, because of a new CBA, to acquire a veteran quarterback for the 2011 season. Who is it? It doesn't really matter. What does matter, though, is the Bengals would need to look to the upcoming draft for the future quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. Could Ryan Mallet be that guy?

Geoff Hobson already warned us that the Bengals shouldn't reach for a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick if there isn't a quarterback worthy. Besides, with Chad Ochocinco's future in Cincinnati up in the air, the Bengals could use a guy like A.J. Green with their first-round pick. Also, if Nick Fairley is available when the Bengals go on the clock, many of you, and me too, would think the Bengals would be crazy not to choose him.

Andrew Luck's announcement that he was going to stay at Stanford for his senior year pretty much ruled out the Bengals' hopes of drafting a quarterback in the first round. But, that doesn't mean that they can't draft a quarterback. There are many others who could find themselves in stripes in 2011. It's unlikely that the Bengals would get one of the top-two quarterbacks, Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, in the draft since they're both likely to be first-round picks and the Bengals will probably use their No. 4 overall pick on a player that is less likely to be a bust. However, if one of those two guys fall to the Bengals in the second round, don't be surprised if they take advantage of their situation and pick them. If not, who else would they take?

There's Colin Kaepernick, who impressed many while playing for the Bengals in the Senior Bowl. There's Jake Locker, whose draft stock fell badly because of his Senior Bowl performance. And then there's Ryan Mallet.

An article that was published today on that predicts that the future of the quarterback position in the NFL is going towards the Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees way: smart, strong armed, accurate but speedy, just in case they need to make a play with their feet.

In the copycat NFL, every quarterback-needy team is looking, hoping, wishing, praying for the next Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is exactly what the modern professional passer must be -- accurate, quick-thinking and quick-moving to beat any and every exotic pass rush.

The days of desiring that big, big-armed classic dropback quarterback are gone. The NFL prototype now is more Drew Brees, less Drew Bledsoe.

Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert fit this mold. Carson Palmer does not. If the Bengals want a classic, drop back quarterback, Carson Palmer carbon copy, though, they may find that Mallet is available in the third, fourth or fifth round and they may decide that they want him to call the plays in the huddle for the 2012 Bengals and beyond.

Mallett, who once looked like the ideal pro QB at 6-6 and 238 pounds with the arm to heave the ball the length of the field, might struggle to find a comfortable spot in the modern NFL.

Mallett isn't mobile and didn't look good in his bowl-game test against Ohio State's top-tier talent, struggling with his footwork within the pocket and holding the ball too long.

If Mallet shows that he has the necessary quarterback intangibles, leadership, intelligence, strong arm, accuracy and a lot more, he may be on the Bengals draft board, even though some think he's grouped in with a dying breed of NFL quarterbacks.

Who says that Palmer's replacement needs to come from the first two rounds of the draft? The Patriots discovered Tom Brady with a compensatory pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. So, stranger things have happened.

What do you think?