Regardless of who the Bengals take in April’s draft, Andy Dalton needs to be on the roster next year as the quarterback taking snaps Week 1.
Andy Dalton may still be an important piece for the Bengals to have at the beginning of the 2020 season. Dalton’s value could be maximized as a mentor and bridge quarterback, if the Bengals select a highly touted quarterback prospect to be his successor.
Having a veteran quarterback who is willing to help his eventual replacement is rare. Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Brett Favre have all famously been less than thrilled at the notion of mentoring the young quarterbacks on their team. However, Dalton supported Ryan Finley during his brief stint on the bench.
Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert are the top three quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft. Cincinnati will almost surely be in position to draft one of them. They all have circumstances that suggest they would benefit from Dalton’s knowledge and should spend some time behind him on the depth chart.
Justin Herbert has the least amount of hype from the 2019 college season. However, Herbert may have the most raw arm talent in the draft class. He may not be as pro ready as other quarterbacks due to Oregon’s style of offense, but he was on the radar as a top prospect long before Burrow’s phenomenal 2019 ever began. Given Herbert’s college background, he would benefit a great deal from having Dalton around and/or sitting behind him.
Tua Tagovailoa has been the predestined number one pick of the upcoming draft for some time now. Athletic, intelligent, injury prone? Bengals fans shutter at the notion of dealing with an injured first round draft pick … again. Will the Bengals allow a temporarily injured status to prevent them from taking the preordained best quarterback in the draft?
If the Bengals decide that the Alabama product is the first overall pick and are not going to be scared off because of his current injury, Dalton provides a perfect bridge quarterback while Tagovailoa returns to full strength. Also, it would be nice if the Bengals could fix the offensive line before throwing their future franchise quarterback to the wolves.
Let Dalton take the beatings while Jonah Williams gets accustomed to being a starting left tackle. The Bengals don’t want to repeat the Colts mistakes by throwing the future of the franchise behind a porous offensive line and shortening his career.
Many casual sports fans have heard the Joe Burrow story. He transferred to LSU from Ohio State and is currently having a season that will go down as one of the best in college football history. However, the casual sports fan could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that this season is Burrow’s first playing at LSU.
Burrow was exceptionally average as the starting quarterback for LSU in 2018. With only a 57.8 completion percentage, 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Nobody was giving Burrow any attention. Obviously that was a mistake. There is no denying the potential of an individual who is currently achieving great things against college football’s top competition.
Even though no quarterback enters the perfect situation, Burrow’s first season at LSU shows what could happen if a young quarterback is simply thrown into a offense that has not been specifically designed around his strengths. The same could be said for any talented quarterback prospect. For example, Lamar Jackson would not be having his current success if he was drafted by a team who was unwilling to form their offensive system around his skill set.
Should the Bengals bring the Ohio native home for his NFL career, they need to protect what he represents as the future of the franchise. Before allowing Burrow to step on the field, the coaches need to work with him behind the scenes to understand every element of his game Then, develop the offense around what will suit him best.
Burrow had a lackluster 2018 with LSU because the team wasn’t built to utilize his skills to their best potential. Once the LSU staff knew what they had in Burrow, they were able to create the team we are currently seeing.
Admittedly, Andy Dalton would be an extremely well paid bridge quarterback. But nothing says Cincinnati can’t trade Dalton mid season once they are ready to start their rookie quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs executed a similar plan to perfection allowing Patrick Mahomes to mature behind the veteran Alex Smith.
Let Dalton be the Jon Kitna to the new Carson Palmer. Once the team is back to where Dalton’s limitations as a quarterback are actually the problem, give the city its quarterback of the future.