Lewis: Bengals will keep options open with fourth overall pick

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis held his pre-draft press conference on Monday, where he acknowledged the team recently had a private workout with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Gabbert is just the latest high-profile QB to visit and take part in a pre-draft workout with the Bengals, joining a group that includes Auburn's Cam Newton, Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton.

The Bengals own the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but their pre-draft activity doesn't necessarily translate to a quarterback selection with their first pick. This year's draft class is a potentially historic one in terms of QB depth, meaning the Bengals could conceivably find their successor to Carson Palmer in the second round or later.

"We've evaluated quarterbacks but I don't think we're forced into any situation any way or another," Lewis said, in reference to Cincinnati's first-round pick. "I think we want to be very, very careful to make sure we make the picks that we make and we get the value for the picks where we're making them. Unfortunately we're picking too high this year at No. 4, and there comes a great value with that pick and we want to make sure in every pick that we make that we that we get a player that meets that value and we feel real good about him in that particular slot."

Is it possible the Bengals will look at free agency, and not the draft, to find their next quarterback?

"Let's not spend all of our time speculating about speculation. There's a lot of options. It would not be beneficial to the football team to lock ourselves in one way or the other."

Whether the Bengals select an upper-echelon QB or not, Lewis has been impressed by the four prospects.

"I think it's public common knowledge that we spent a lot of time with all of these guys, from the time we spent in Mobile all the way through this past weekend. So it gives us a chance I think to know the guys," Lewis told the Enquirer. "There is some depth. I think they all have some great attributes. I think the one thing that's common in all of them: They've been great leaders for their football team, and I think that's a good attribute to have as a quarterback coming into the National Football League. And these guys have all done that, so that's been a good thing."

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