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Bengals Bytes (2/23): The case for drafting a top 5 quarterback

Should the Bengals really think about drafting a quarterback in the first round?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

AJ McCarron praises Marvin Lewis alongside Nick Saban
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has been nothing short of professional on his way out the door, which matches his stance since he arrived and went through the odd grievance process. McCarron continued this trend Wednesday, appearing on the Adam Schefter Podcast, praising Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and explaining why Lewis provided a nice contrast to his time with Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Bengals can’t afford to franchise tag Tyler Eifert
Financially speaking, the Cincinnati Bengals can afford to slap the franchise tag on tight end Tyler Eifert. But they can’t afford to do it. Bengals fans want to see the team be aggressive in free agency and break free of the retread-happy approach the team uses. Even Marvin Lewis, chatting with the media after his two-year extension, said the team needs to be better at adding guys from other teams.

Is Andy Dalton elite? Bengals' new quarterbacks coach thinks he can be
The Bengals were coming off a four-win season when Andy Dalton was drafted in 2011. As a rookie he replaced Carson Palmer and helped Cincinnati back to the playoffs. In fact, Dalton played an important role in the franchise's five-year postseason run. But that all changed in 2016, when the Bengals limped to a 6-9-1 record, and continued this past season, when they finished 7-9.

The case for the Cincinnati Bengals drafting Lamar Jackson
Before we get started, let me say two things. First: I doubt the Bengals will draft Lamar Jackson even though I believe it could make them better in the long run. Second: I am always a proponent of sitting a quarterback early in his career. Perhaps that makes the Bengals and Jackson a more natural fit in my eyes than someone else’s.

The Broo View: McCarron fiasco gives chance for Bengals to figure out Dalton successor
Now that the Bengals have botched the AJ McCarron situation, there may be some good that can come out of it. Like life after Andy Dalton. I'm not a Dalton hater. Never have been. I think Dalton is a tough guy who spins a nice ball and can make a play when you have to have it.

TDBH: Guenther views first “over-hyped,” combine as DC
Paul Guenther is at his ninth NFL scouting combine but first as a defensive coordinator and he pulls no punches. The new Bengals DC thinks it is over-hyped. Even though one of his close friends has become the face of the combine thanks to the wall-to-wall coverage. "I had dinner with him last night," Guenther says today of NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

Fisher cleared
On his 96th day after a heart procedure ended his season, Bengals right tackle Jake Fisher got cleared Thursday and he celebrated by going back into the gym and clearing the big heavy weights. “I’ve been working with lighter ones, but now I’m back to off-season workouts,” said the relieved and resolute Fisher. “You have to be conscious of it. You have to monitor it. But you still have to live life. You can’t let it cripple you in any way.”

AFC North Bytes

Ed Bouchette: If Steelers keep Le'Veon Bell, they should use him differently
Provided they keep Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers enter next season with two Pro Bowl backs, him and fullback Roosevelt Nix. Should that be enough?

Is 2018 the year the Ravens overcome the injury bug?
Last season, Baltimore listed a player on injured reserved 271 times, the highest number of times IR was reported in the last six seasons. With 17 players on IR in 2017, the Ravens were tied for ninth in the league. The Ravens are no stranger to injury woes, but is this the year they finally get healthy? In the last six seasons, the Ravens have had at least one key contributor end up on IR. In 2017, it was elite guard Marshal Yanda.

Random Bytes

Failing a Marijuana Combine Test May No Longer Be NFL Teams' Biggest Concern
Last year, like so many others, more than 300 prospects lined up at the NFL Scouting Combine, went into a room and peed into a cup. Most would pass the litany of tests the NFL runs to see whether any players are using drugs banned under the collective bargaining agreement. But one drug in particular seems to snag multiple players every year: marijuana.

Tyrod Taylor Reportedly Won't Be Cut by Bills
Tyrod Taylor reportedly won't be cut by the Buffalo Bills, at least until they have a better option in place, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of "At this point, it doesn't seem like they're going to cut him without knowing who his replacement will be," Rapoport said Thursday on NFL Up To The Minute Live. "The Bills are OK with paying a $6 million roster bonus to keep him on the roster."

NFL free agency tampering period is a farce
You’ll hear a lot about free agency and the rules over the next three weeks. There will be breathless speculation over what will go down during the NFL’s so-called “tampering period,” a 48-hour stretch when teams and agents can legally negotiate for the first time. There’ll be clocks counting down to March 14 at 4 p.m. Just know this: Pretty much all of it is for show. The deals that will be done in 20 days? Those are real. But most of the other stuff you’ll hear between now and then isn’t much above fiction.