The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t expected to give up on starting quarterback Andy Dalton, but it’s clear that the 2014 season is a make-or-break year for Dalton. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson recently gave plenty of kind words of support to him, but those words would mean nothing if he disappoints this season. A quality starting quarterback, the Bengals need to figure out if Dalton has the physical tools and consistent decision-making to be a legitimate franchise quarterback, and he does show streaks of brilliance. However, he is just as likely to implode and have a multi-interception game, and the issue with Dalton is that he can’t be fully trusted. On one of the deepest teams in the NFL, Dalton will pretty much have everything available for him to succeed next season, and he’ll have to play well in order to continue starting.
Even though the Bengals aren’t expected to replace Dalton, they are expected to start looking at young quarterbacks to groom behind him as a contingency plan or potential replacement. One name circling around is Georgia Bulldogs product Aaron Murray, who had a long and successful career in the SEC before things broke down for him last year due to an ACL tear and injuries to star weapons around him before his own season-ending injury.
The Dayton Daily News’s Carlos Holmes reports that the Bengals interviewed Murray at the Scouting Combine, but that’s not the important part of the report, since you can’t read too much out of who interviews who. However, Holmes reports that the Bengals “are believed to have legitimate interest” in Murray as a backup quarterback to Dalton, as they would like to “groom” Murray as his successor.
Murray is one of my favorite second-tier QBs, and I don’t see how anyone could rank A.J. McCarron above him. Both players have great track records and intangibles, but Murray has better tools (arm strength and athleticism) and did his work with less around him. He also has better technique, and I think his arm strength is sufficient for the next level. I wouldn’t bet on him being a franchise quarterback, but he makes sense for the Bengals as a mid-round pick.