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Brandt: Bengals Have Targeted Quarterbacks Christian Ponder And Andy Dalton

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Due to the increased chatter from "experts" that Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder could be gone by the end of the first round, many are projecting that Cincinnati could return late in the first round to select one of those two quarterbacks. Therefore they'd have their fourth overall pick (likely A.J. Green) and a quarterback; both selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Obviously, that's not the only option.

According to NFL Network's Gil Brandt, the Bengals have clearly targeted Ponder and Dalton for this week's NFL Draft. And rather than trading up from their 35th overall selection in the second round, the Bengals could trade back from their fourth overall selection.

"The Bengals spent a lot of time last Friday with QB prospects Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder — Marvin Lewis and four members of his staff were there," Brandt said. "Neither Dalton nor Ponder make sense at No. 4 overall, so I could see them moving down for one of those guys."

We've promoted and favored this route ever since Peter King's mention that the Bengals have Alabama's Julio Jones ahead of Georgia's A.J. Green. And it's not because we personally favor Jones over Green. It's because we believe that this team simply needs more draft picks to rebuild a roster that's dying like a slow-acting virus.

What trade, if any, the Bengals make isn't Brandt's point, simply because it's all conjecture. What isn't conjecture, according to Brandt, is that the Bengals two quarterbacks are guys that were originally projected to go in the second round -- a feeling that's been growing for the past couple of weeks.

Additionally, on Monday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hinted that the team may not go with a quarterback fourth overall.

"We’ve evaluated quarterbacks but I don’t think we’re forced into any situation any way or another," Lewis said. "I think we want to be very, very careful to make sure we make the picks that we make and we get the value for the picks where we’re making them. Unfortunately we’re picking too high this year at No. 4, and there comes a great value with that pick and we want to make sure in every pick that we make that we that we get a player that meets that value and we feel real good about him in that particular slot."

It sounds like, and we're promoting our own conjecture at this point, that the Bengals will not be selecting a quarterback fourth overall. And if that's the case, the biggest collective sigh of relief since the end of the Cold War just took place in southwest Ohio.

Tune in to the 2011 NFL Draft on NFL Network