With the National Football League draft quickly approaching, message boards and websites are flooded with draft news and suggestions about who teams should or shouldn't take or where someone will or won't go.
One team especially seems to be having a tough time, the Cincinnati Bengals.
A majority of Bengals fans have called for quarterback Andy Dalton's head this off-season claiming that he is overrated or saying that the pro game is too big for him and he hasn't accomplished anything in the NFL. To those people I (and Lee Corso, wherever he spends the winter) say, "Not so fast my friend(s)!"
Let us go back three years ago...
The Bengals once again were the "Bungles" having just finished a 3-13 season and coming off a bad break-up with former QB Carson Palmer. The team was in desperate need of a franchise quarterback and prime wideout following the loss of Chad Johnson.
Enter Georgia's A..J. Green and TCU's Andy Dalton. The two players proved to be worthy of the high draft picks and immediately led the Bengals to a winning record and playoff spot their first year in the league.
Dalton was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and along with Kenny Anderson are the only two quarterbacks to lead the Bengals to three straight winning seasons and playoff appearances. Some fans will pounce here and remind me that Dalton has been horrible in his first three playoff games and that is true. You know who else performed poorly in the playoffs his first three trips? Peyton Manning.
Now I am not saying Dalton will become Manning.
But the Bengals have improved by one win every year in Dalton's first three seasons in Cincinnati and Dalton continues to show improvement against the best teams, with wins over New England and Green Bay in 2013.
The Bengals need to learn how to beat good teams first and the playoff success will come. Dalton is on the right track and new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will make sure his progress continues.
Cincinnati also has added weapons around Dalton in running back Giovanni Bernard, tight end Tyler Eifert and WR Marvin Jones.
Oh yeah! The Bengals also won the AFC North in 2013 ... one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
"So who should the Bengals take in the first round?" I hear some of you asking.
Cincinnati's immediate needs are at offensive line and linebacker but protecting Dalton should be top priority with the first round pick.
There are a plethora of talented O-linemen and the Bengals could either trade up for one of the top two in Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson or stay at 24 and snag Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin or Cyrus Kouandjio.
Protecting your quarterback is imperative and it would be in the teams best interest to insure what looks to be a bright future by drafting someone to protect Dalton. If the Bengals choose to start over again, by taking a quarterback, 'Who dey' could turn into 'No one' real fast and could usher in the return of the Cincinnati Bungles.
Contact Joe Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org