Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Targets: Quarterback

For fans of the Cincinnati Bengals, no position is more divisive than the quarterback spot. Andy Dalton is either beloved by fans for taking the team to three consecutive playoff trips, or reviled for his three consecutive playoff flops. This offseason is key for the Bengals and the quarterback position going forward. Dalton’s going into the last season of his contract, and the team has to decide whether or not to go ahead and draft a young signal caller this year, to either provide competition with Dalton, or to take over in 2015 if Dalton isn’t re-signed. If they draft a quarterback in this year’s draft, here are some options.

1. Derek Carr: Carr has his detractors, who say he was the product of an offense that played it safe, and that he struggles under pressure. Those are concerns, but he has an NFL arm, and NFL talent. He knows how to read defenses, and one doesn’t have to try to hard to picture him launching a 70-yard bomb to AJ Green. The Bengals may have to trade up for a chance at him, though.

2. Jimmy Garoppolo: Like Carr, Garoppolo has some question marks with his ability to handle pressure, especially up the middle. He also doesn’t have the cannon that Carr has. However, he’s a cerebral passer, and has a lightning-quick delivery, which helps him avoid sacks. There will be an adjustment period, coming from a small school, but the potential, as a second-round pick, is there.

3. Zach Mettenberger: Mettenberger is a classic pocket quarterback, possessing great size, at 6’5″ and 225 lbs, but lacking mobility. He does have a huge arm, and can make all the throws. The question is whether he can make the correct throws. He sometimes makes incorrect reads, and tends to stare receivers down, which will have disastrous results in the NFL.

4. Aaron Murray: If the Bengals decide to let Dalton walk, they could choose to replace him with someone who is a lot like him. Murray is similarly sized at 6’1, but is a great leader and plays with intelligence to overcome height. He has a better arm than Dalton, but it’s not elite. One thing in his favor is that he played at Georgia, where the Bengals have a tendency to look.

5. Brett Smith: Smith could be a wildcard if the Bengals don’t pick a quarterback early. He’s more raw than the others, but his mobility adds an element that the team hasn’t had for a while. He also has a good arm, and could develop, given time. One year might not be enough though, forcing the Bengals to go ahead and extend Dalton’s contract.

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Tags: Aaron Murray Brett Smith Cincinnati Bengals Derek Carr Jimmy Garoppolo Zach Mettenberger

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