Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC North [Print without images]

Monday, December 13, 2010
Bengals currently hold No. 2 pick

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Week 14 wasn't all bad for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite losing 23-7 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals (2-11) got some much-needed help with draft position. Upset victories by the Detroit Lions (3-10) and Buffalo Bills (3-10) this past weekend have Cincinnati currently holding the No. 2 overall pick with just three games remaining.

Although it sounds backwards, the Bengals control their own destiny with the second pick. All Cincinnati has to do is lose its final three games, which is certainly possible considering the Bengals are on an NFL-high 10-game losing streak.

Cincinnati has several needs. But its first pick could be determined by what the team does with quarterback Carson Palmer. He is scheduled to make $11.5 million next season and statistically is having his worst year since 2004, which was his first season as a starter. Palmer threw another three interceptions Sunday against Pittsburgh and has 18 picks on the season.

If Palmer goes, the Bengals likely will be looking for his replacement at quarterback in the first round. If he stays, Cincinnati would get help at another position.

The Carolina Panthers (1-12) currently hold the No. 1 overall pick, where Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck could be the early favorite if he declares for the NFL draft. Would the Bengals be willing to draft another quarterback at No. 2 if Luck is off the board? Or would they rather stick with the struggling Palmer and pay the high salary for another year? These are all questions the Bengals will discuss internally this offseason.