John Clay

The Bengals should make the bold move and draft a quarterback first

Random notes:

A franchise in desperate need of buzz, the Cincinnati Bengals took a step in that direction by hiring 35-year-old Zac Taylor, the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach, as its head coach. But they shouldn’t stop there.

The Bengals should draft a quarterback. When their name is called at the No. 11 spot in the first round, owner Mike Brown and player personnel director Duke Tobin should opt for the bold move and draft the best quarterback available, be it Ohio State’s Dwyane Haskins, Duke’s Daniel Jones, Missouri’s Drew Lock or whomever Taylor fancies as a replacement for Andy Dalton.

Nothing against Dalton. The former second-round pick has been a fine quarterback, leading the Bengals to the playoffs in five of his eight seasons. But he’s never won a playoff game. He’s 31 years old. And he’s not the difference-maker the Bengals need right now.

True, a team coming off three consecutive losing seasons has plenty of needs. Linebackers probably top the list. But if the Bengals are truly headed in a fresh direction, they should start anew with a fresh quarterback, one their offensive-minded head coach can develop.

Speaking of the draft, UK safety Mike Edwards continues to feel the love. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah mentioned Edwards among his “safe picks” this year. And on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, the great Greg Cosell said this of Edwards:

“I love this kid. I really like this kid. . . . Safeties now have to have tremendous versatility. He was a safety in their base defense, but he played slot in their sub-packages. And I thought he was a good slot player. . . . I thought he played zone coverage extremely well with great awareness, great understanding of routes and route combinations.”

Now let’s switch to the NBA Draft. It’s OK for Kentucky’s Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to look, but there’s no need for either to buy. Surely the front-court reserves on last year’s team have declared for the draft just to get a better read on what they need to do to impress NBA scouts down the road. They should follow the example PJ Washington set last year.

The NBA announced Tuesday that 233 players have declared early for the draft. A total of 26 are from the SEC. Believe it or not, Kentucky’s five (Richards, Montgomery, Washington, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro) did not lead the pack. LSU has six in Skylar Mays, Naz Reid, Javonte Smart, Marlon Taylor, Tremont Waters and Emmitt Williams.

If you missed it, the NCAA passed a rule this week in hopes of eliminating marathon overtime games. Beginning with the fifth overtime, teams will alternate two-point conversion plays until someone wins. (In an unpopular take, I dislike the college overtime setup. Not real football.)

New coach Darrin Horn should keep the momentum going at Northern Kentucky. The former Tates Creek star will be officially introduced as the school’s new basketball coach on Thursday. Horn took Western Kentucky to the Sweet 16, couldn’t get it going at South Carolina, and spent the past four years as a Shaka Smart assistant at Texas.

At the top of a list of regrets is not being allowed to talk to Enes Kanter during his one (non-playing) year at Kentucky. After his Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Kanter thanked the New York Knicks for waiving him earlier in the season.

The best thing on television right now: Professional sports bettor James Holzhauer compiling over $1 million in winnings on Jeopardy.

In the least-surprising news you will get this week: Alabama football coach Nick Saban was back at work two days after hip replacement surgery.

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