Bengals on pace for No. 2 pick in draft

If things hold up the way they are, the Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) will have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers (1-12) – who the Bengals beat earlier this season – all but have the top pick locked up. They would most-likely take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but there is the chance they will look to trade the pick (especially if they are tricked into thinking that their 2010 second-rounder, Jimmy Clausen, is the answer at QB).

If that’s the case, the Bengals need to do whatever it takes to move up and draft Luck. And if they had the No. 2 pick, it shouldn’t take too much to move up a spot.

Do I think Carson Palmer is the lone reason for the Bengals’ struggles this season? Absolutely not. But his career is in clear regression and the Bengals would hate to look back on it 5 years from now and wished they had done more to try and get Luck.

Yes, the Bengals have several needs and there are fans that would want nothing to do with starting from scratch with a rookie QB. But I say it’s time – especially if a player like Luck is available. No one is a “sure thing” in the NFL, but the Stanford signal-caller is as close as it gets.

Plus, the Bengals would have to pay Palmer a boatload of money to keep him next season, unless he’s willing to take a paycut (which I seriously doubt). It’s time to pull the plug on Carson and start fresh.

Course, knowing Mike Brown, he’s probably targeting Cam Newton. I think Newton needs to get arrested at least once between now and the draft for Brown to really have strong interest in him. Going AWOL from the combine wouldn’t hurt, either.