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The Draft Decision That Shaped Two NFL Franchises

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In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals were rebuilding and had high draft picks. The direction they went with those picks not only helped to shape their franchise, but another one as well.

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

As I sat and watched the Bengals battle the Jaguars last Sunday evening, a lot of thoughts went through my mind that weren't necessarily specific to what was occurring in the actual game. I made an intention to watch Jacksonville's second-year quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, as I was curious to see what progress he had made. Even though Josh determined that he was done with any topics revolving around the Jaguars, I have one more at I would like to touch on.

Going into the 2011 season, the Bengals were in full-rebuilding mode. Carson Palmer had quit on them and their two veteran wide receivers, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, wore out their welcomes. With the No.4 and No.35 overall picks, the Bengals had a chance to immediately better their roster, had they struck gold.

At No.4, the Bengals had a major decision to make: select one of the two best players in the draft in Patrick Peterson or A.J. green; or go the traditional route and select a possible franchise quarterback in a player like Blaine Gabbert. The Bengals went with a sure fire star in Green and he has stepped in become a top-ten wide receiver in the NFL.

Gabbert slipped to No.10 and the Jaguars pounced on him. They bailed on David Garrard and went into that season prepared to start the rookie. He showed signs of promise at times, but there were growing pains and Jacksonville had a top-ten pick once again in 2012.

It was the Green decision that was a catalyst to another major decision. At the top of the second round of the 2011 draft, the Bengals drafted their quarterback of the future. Some believed that that selection was going to be Ryan Mallett, but Cincinnati went with the safer bet and selected Andy Dalton. I think we can all agree that that was a wise decision.

As I watched the game on Sunday, the diametric opposites that were both clubs really shined through those three players from the 2011 draft. Dalton continued to look like a Pro Bowler, comfortable making every throw, while Gabbert played tentatively and seemed afraid to make a mistake. Green took over the game and accentuated Dalton's great game. Ironically, the Bengals walked out of Jacksonville at 3-1, while the Jaguars fell to 1-3.

One has to wonder if the Bengals would be anywhere near what they have been over the last year and a quarter. They still have a long way to go this season, but it appears that the Bengals will be around the playoff hunt once again come December. Hindsight being what it is, the Bengals appear to have made the best possible decision for their ball club--even if Peterson was the player coveted by some. That's not being said to slight the Jaguars and their quarterback, but if you watched the game on Sunday, you'd see how the decision is currently affecting both teams.