Will Bengals have to trade up for QB?

It's no secret the Cincinnati Bengals will take a high-profile quarterback in next week's NFL draft. The only question is which round?

Holding the No. 4 overall pick, the Bengals are not expected to draft one of the top-two quarterbacks: Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. Therefore, most projections have Cincinnati taking a quarterback at the top of the second round with the No. 35 overall pick. Potential targets could be TCU's Andy Dalton, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Florida State's Christian Ponder.

But according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, there is a growing sense that Dalton, Mallett and Ponder are moving up draft boards and could be taken late in the first round. If that's the case, that could leave the Bengals empty-handed at No. 35 when it comes to drafting one of the top quarterback prospects.

The Bengals have to be prepared for every scenario, and that includes trading back into the first round if necessary. Dalton, Mallett and Ponder likely aren't rated among the top 32 prospects for every team. But quarterback is such an important position that other quarterback-needy teams may get antsy and take one higher than originally projected.

It's important for Cincinnati to stay alert and keep its eye on this development. Because with franchise quarterback Carson Palmer threatening to retire, the worst thing the Bengals can do is come out of next week's draft without a viable replacement.