Lamar Jackson could provide competition at quarterback

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JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson
JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson /
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The Cincinnati Bengals have allowed Andy Dalton to start with no competition since he was drafted. It’s time for a change.

Whether you believe that the Cincinnati Bengals need to move on from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton or believe that he just needs a push, bringing in some real competition would be good for this franchise. When I talk about a competition I don’t mean signing quarterback Matt Barkley who has had a terrible and slim NFL outing. I also don’t include the Bengals third quarterback Jeff Driskel who has not even taken an NFL snap. Even if you are a Dalton fan, would you feel comfortable if either of these quarterbacks had to step in if Dalton got hurt?

Dalton needs to be pushed with some competition to bring out his full potential if there is indeed room to improve. Since being drafted in 2011, Dalton has been one of the leagues more mediocre quarterbacks. In some aspects of his game, he is below the halfway marker among starting quarterbacks.

Looking at the years between 2011 and 2017, Dalton ranked 22nd in completion percentage. He also ranks 25th in yards per attempt, 9th in touchdowns, 8th most interceptions, and 19th in passer rating. Fans that still believe in Dalton will point out his winning percentage with the team having a 63-44-2 regular season record. He’s also got a 0-4 playoff record while throwing one touchdown and six interceptions.

Head coach Marvin Lewis has already lived up to his word about making changes when it comes to the offseason, specifically talking about bringing in players from other clubs. Is it possible that he brings in a quarterback to provide competition for Dalton instead of just handing over the keys for another year? Once again, Matt Barkley is not the kind of signing that is going to move Dalton as I explained in yesterdays article regarding the signing.

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As I mentioned there, the Kansas City Chiefs were struggling to get veteran quarterback Alex Smith‘s full potential as he was much like Dalton in the sense of conservative playstyle. The Chiefs traded up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes at 10th overall. Cincinnati would not have to trade up likely to pull off the same kind of move, however.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson out of Louisville is a guy that could find himself without a home towards the end of the first round or even in the early part of the second. His running ability has gotten him labeled as a scrambling quarterback resulting in him falling down teams boards. If you watch his tape you would find that he is a throwing first quarterback.

During his three seasons under center for Louisville, Jackson threw for 9,043 yards, 69 touchdowns, and only 27 interceptions. His rushing made him a dual threat rushing for 4,132 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry (6.9 yards/carry in 2017), and 50 touchdowns. His lack of offensive line help and talented weapons around the offense was much of why he was forced to run the ball as much as he did.

The former Heisman Trophy winner in 2016 kept his eyes downfield even when escaping the pressure in the pocket and extending the play. Waiting till he absolutely had to run instead of immediately dropping his eyes and taking off. His rare athleticism is remarkable and often compared to quarterback Michael Vick.

There are plenty of differences between Vick and Jackson. It was known that Vick was not a guy to watch the film before games or during the offseason. He lacked the off the field work and it showed at times when he failed to recognize defensive schemes and make bad decisions. His arm talent and ability to move around made up for some of that as he still had a successful career in the NFL.

Now imagine taking Michael Vick and adding in watching the film. Can you imagine how much better Vick would have been during his time in the NFL if he had watched the film? Jackson has the opportunity to prove that he can be a successful quarterback in the NFL this season and for teams to be sending him down the draft boards because he is extremely athletic and can run as well is just ridiculous.

There was a comment made about Jackson switching to receiver in the NFL with his skill sets but Jackson has said that he will be playing quarterback or nothing at all in the NFL.

If Jackson does end up falling in the draft, the Bengals should think long and hard about drafting him in the first couple rounds. Even if they have to move up from their spot in the second round, they have eleven draft picks and doesn’t have eleven needs so bundle them to move up. They can still draft an offensive lineman in the first and then trade back up into the first if needed. He wouldn’t be forced to start in 2018 and could sit behind Dalton for a year like the Chiefs did with Mahomes if you want to give Dalton one more chance.

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Either way, Dalton is now 30 and yet to bring a single playoff win to Cincinnati while starting in four of them. If the Bengals did decide that Jackson was the better option after a quarterback battle, it would only cost the team $2.4 million in dead cap money this season. Whether you are looking for someone to back up Dalton and give him some competition or looking for Dalton’s successor as he’s not getting younger, Jackson is a player that would make a lot of sense for the Bengals. Even the Houston Texans are looking at Jackson as a prospect in case quarterback DeShaun Watson gets hurt again.

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