Cincinnati Bengals Weigh Backup Quarterback Options: Draft or Free Agency?

Kyle Battle@@KayBeeSportsCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10:  Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski #7 and quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals run on the field before taking on the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Well my foot is placed squarely in my mouth. Just a few weeks ago I addressed the issue of Bruce Gradkowski's free agency and predicted that the Bengals would bring in a veteran quarterback to fill a mentor role for Andy Dalton.

Now it seems the Bengals may look to the draft to fill that vacancy.

According to Geoff Hobson of, the Bengals are unlikely to use one of their early picks on a signal-caller but they do want to bring in someone who is competent enough to produce if and when they are needed. 

Last Saturday several prospects played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. Draft stock rose for some and dropped for others. 

Unlike last year's draft, quarterbacks aren't at the forefront. In fact, ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper argues that the first five picks will be all linemen and a corner. 

The Bengals need at quarterback can partially be attributed to the success of San Franicsco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was the backup to then-starter Alex Smith before Smith sustained a concussion.

Kaepernick seized the opportunity and only nine starts later he is preparing to start in the Super Bowl. Kaepernick's emergence isn't the first example of how a backup quarterback can energize a team. Tom Brady backed up Drew Bledsoe until he got hurt and Brady never looked back. Tim Tebow filled in for Kyle Orton in Denver two seasons ago and led them to a memorable overtime playoff win against the Steelers

That being said, who are the Bengals looking at? If they choose to draft a quarterback, it won't be until day two or even day three of the Draft.

A name that should still be around at that time is Miami University (OH) quarterback, Zac Dysert.

Dysert could be a great pick for the Bengals because he is showing tremendous upside but he's not yet ready to play. Which works because, in all likelihood, Andy Dalton will beat him for the starting spot anyway. Dysert is looking to become the most recent MAC quarterback to break into the NFL; the first for Miami University since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Another name that the Bengals certainly have their eye on is Oklahoma's Landry Jones. Known as a cerebral quarterback, Jones' composure and experience in high pressure games makes him a highly qualified candidate. His performance in the Senior Bowl, however, wasn't as impressive. If Jones can overcome his Senior Bowl performance with a solid Combine and Pro Day, which he can, then he'll be around for the Bengals' later picks.

Other players up for consideration are Tennessee's Tyler Bray and Kansas State's Collin Klein.

It's not a certainty that the Bengals will even draft a quarterback, however. They also have the option to find a backup QB in free agency. If that were the route taken, Rex Grossman would be the best pick. And I've heard stranger suggestions than re-signing Bruce Gradkowski.

All things considered, Plan A: Draft Landry Jones or Zac Dysert, but not before the 4th round. Plan B: Re-sign Gradkowski. Plan C: Sign Rex Grossman.