- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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But is Cincinnati capable of scouting and picking its next franchise quarterback? Two decades of history say it won't be easy.
The Bengals have arguably the NFL's worst track record drafting quarterbacks over the past 20 years. They have drafted high-profile busts Akili Smith (No. 3 overall in 1999) and David Klingler (No. 6 overall in 1992), mid-round flops Jeff Rowe (fifth round in 2007) and Donald Hollas (fourth round in 1991), and seventh-rounders Casey Bramlet (2004) and John Walsh (1995) who never played.
Of the quarterbacks Cincinnati drafted since 1991, Palmer is the only player who has been successful in the NFL. He has made two Pro Bowls with the Bengals and thrown for 22,694 yards and 154 touchdowns in eight seasons.
But Palmer was taken No. 1 overall, and it didn't take much effort or scouting for Cincinnati and the rest of the NFL to know Palmer was the consensus top pick in the 2003 draft. Yet, with zero playoff wins and two major injuries to his knee and elbow, Palmer's career with Cincinnati has fallen short of expectations.
Now that the Bengals are back in the quarterback market, their inability to scout the position is back in the spotlight. Cincinnati owns the No. 4 overall pick in a year when finding a franchise quarterback in the draft is not a slam dunk.
There are significant questions regarding top QB prospects Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton. The group has upside, but none of these prospects is considered a lock. Will the Bengals find their long-term solution at quarterback next month, or just another Smith, Klinger or Scott Covington?