In the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals have had six backup quarterbacks. All of them share a common trait – they were starters in the league before coming to the Bengals.

With Bruce Gradkowski becoming an unrestricted free agent and Andy Dalton entering his third season, many have wondered if they might reverse the trend and look to the draft in a couple of months.

Said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden during the NFL Scouting Combine on the need for a solid backup: “No doubt it is important. We have to do our due diligence on who’s out there and see where we stand with Bruce (Gradkowski) and Zac (Robinson) and make a decision.”

If the Bengals draft a backup, it would be quite a turnaround from past years. Since 2003, they have drafted only four quarterbacks – Carson Palmer (2003), Casey Bramlet (2004), Jeff Rowe (2007) and Dalton (2011). While Palmer and Dalton became the starter, Bramlet and Rowe were mainly the third quarterback and were only here for a season.

Most teams, including the Bengals, recently have carried only two QBs on their active rosters, with the third on the practice squad.

In what is considered to be one of the more mediocre quarterback classes in years, there aren’t many immediate starters, but there are plenty of developmental guys.

“Probably not as meaty as the past couple classes,” Gruden said of this class. “Two years ago we needed a quarterback and there were seven or eight up there that were pretty high-ranked. Last year you had (Andrew) Luck and RGIII and Russell Wilson. This year they aren’t quite as possible, but there are talented guys you have to look at. You never know which ones are going to emerge.”