As draft day approaches, the needs of the Cincinnati Bengals are becoming much clearer. After the playoff debacle, and realizing the Bengals were not going to fire Head Coach Marvin Lewis, one thing that stuck out to millions of football fans who watched the game is just better overall quarterback play. Does that mean trading up in the draft for a quarterback? Not necessarily, but it does mean keeping an eye on the later rounds to see if one is still available.
Once all of the teams who are desperate to draft a quarterback get out of the way, the Bengals are going to be sitting comfortably, and in a position where they can wait on a QB. No doubt Andy Dalton has played well since being thrown into an impossible situation as the starter in the 2011 season, and has progressed to a point. Dalton is decently accurate, throws quite a few touchdowns, and has done well for the 35th overall pick of 2011. Andy Dalton might even take that next step, and if he does, he will command quite a starting quarterback salary.
With that said, the best player available in rounds 3-7 really could be quarterback. With the Manziels and Bridgewaters of the world long gone by round 3, some people to keep an eye on include Zach Mettenberger, quarterback from LSU, and Aaron Murray, quarterback from Georgia. Obviously the choice is Murray just because he is from the University of Georgia, and seemingly one third of the Bengals are from UGA. All kidding aside, the Bengals have done a great job in these rounds finding those best players available.
Zach Mettenberger, a 6’5” senior has all the intangibles of a big time quarterback. He is tall, strong arm, and is recovering nicely from a torn ACL. Mettenberger originally attended the University of Georgia, but was dismissed after off the field issues. He appears to be past these issues and ready to move onto a new situation in the NFL. Mettenberger’s numbers were efficient, completing 64.9% of his passes for 3082 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior at LSU. These numbers are impressive considering Les Miles is a run oriented head coach. The biggest question mark for Mettenberger is going to be his recovery from his ACL injury.
Aaron Murray, a 6’1” senior from the University of Georgia, doesn’t have the size of Mettenberger, and may have some of the same issues as Andy Dalton in that regard. With that said, Murray put together quite a successful career at the University of Georgia and got national attention after losing most of his starting offensive weapons to injury, and still performing at a high level. Murray finished his career with a 61.5% completion percentage, for 13,166 yards, 121 touchdowns to just 41 interceptions. His numbers are very impressive given the strength of the conference and lack of offensive weapons. Murray is not as big as Mettenberger, and is also recovering from and ACL injury, and his future is also unclear.
Do the Bengals need to draft a quarterback? Again, not necessarily, Dalton has proven he can get the job done and if he can get over the playoff hump, he should be just fine. Would drafting a quarterback in the 3rd or 4th round be a problem? Absolutely not, because the Bengals are still a little unsure of what Andy Dalton is going to do in the future. Plus, if a quarterback is the best player available, why not give him a chance to see what he can do, because who knows if Dalton will be here once his contract expires at the end of this season.