The Bengals go into Friday's 6 p.m. second round of the NFL Draft with a bevy of options with the third pick of the night.
There are running backs. A local tight end. There is a safety in Rahim Moore.
And, oh yeah. Quarterbacks: Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick.
Head coach Marvin Lewis is a big advocate of sticking by the board and if the A.J. Green pick is any indication, they'll do the same at No. 35 and won't necessarily draft for position. They passed Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert to take their highest-rated offensive player and there is some sense that taking the best player all the way through in a field of questionable quarterbacks is the best way to combat the quarterback crisis and then chase some veterans in free agency.
"We like a lot of players. And when you're picking at four, you have a lot of needs, and we have some other needs that we have to look at," said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. "But definitely, quarterback is one of the major needs, and hopefully we'll get somebody in the second round. But if not, weirder things have happened. We'll see what happens. Right now, we have Jordan (Palmer) as the backup quarterback — or starting quarterback, whatever. But we definitely need some more weapons at the quarterback position, and hopefully somebody will fall that we really, really like."
The Bengals really, really like that second pick under Lewis. It has netted them solid players, guys with first-round credentials that fell for one reason or another, starting with left guard Eric Steinbach, then safety Madieu Williams all the way up through Rey Maualuga and Carlos Dunlap. There are guys like defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, defensive tackle Stephen Paea, and cornerback Brandon Harris that were projected in the first round in some mocks thst could very well trump the quarterback need at No. 35.
Gruden says the QB doesn't have to come out of the draft. He feels that strongly about his system.
"Until we get another guy, we'll slowly progress with what his strengths are, whoever that is, whether it's a free agent or a guy we draft," he said. "We feel like we have a good system in place here. We feel like a quarterback could come in here that's willing and is smart and accurate, and he'll be able to make some plays, especially with the weapons that he has."
Lewis indicated he was pleased how the players were coming off the board because he said it showed the Bengals had evaluated them the same way.
"We had to make sure that the player fits where we are with the pick," Lewis said of the Green pick. "We're not trying to pull the wool over people's eyes, but we're going to try and stay true and pick the player that has the value. It's how we had the players rated and making sure we're all on the same page and we have to continue with that. It's how we had things numbered (the first four picks). There's been no surprises."