Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton didn’t have a say in planning the team’s approach to last month’s draft, but he offered plenty of praise while assessing it after the fact.
“I don’t think any quarterback is complaining about having more guys who can do a lot,” Dalton said Monday afternoon in his first comments to reporters since the Bengals selected wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon with their first two picks.
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The last time the Bengals used their first-round pick on an offensive skill position was 2013 when they took tight end Tyler Eifert.
And the last time they used their first two selections on such picks, Dalton was one of them when the Bengals grabbed him in the second round after taking A.J. Green fourth overall.
“The guys are really talented, and should help us this year,” Dalton added. “(Ross) can be a big difference. We’ve got the fastest guy in the NFL, so obviously that’s a good thing to have. I’m anxious to see what that speed feels like when he can get around and start doing stuff.”
While the Bengals will begin OTA practices next week, Ross is not eligible to join the team until his class at the University of Washington graduates on June 10. And Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Ross won’t be medically cleared from March labrum surgery until the start of training camp in July.
Dalton got a chance to speak with Mixon for the first time Monday after trading texts him with after the draft and again during rookie camp.
“I mean that’s part of his job, to look out for me and see what’s going on,” Mixon said. “I thought it was cool. I’d never talked to him before. For him to be sending text messages, it was cool.”
“That’s my role now,” Dalton said. “I can be the big brother.”
Asked about the controversy surrounding Mixon’s arrest three years ago for punching a female student and breaking four bones in her face, Dalton said his thoughts are immaterial.
“He’s been given a second chance,” Dalton said. “People may say, ‘Well, I wish he wasn’t here,’ but he’s here regardless. So I’m going to be the best teammate I can be, and be someone that can show him how to handle yourself. We’ve got a lot of guys in this locker room that can show him the right way to do things. I think he’s willing and I hope he’s willing, and if he is then he could have a good long career because he’s a talented player.”
In addition to Ross and Mixon, the Bengals also added wide receiver Josh Malone in the fourth round and tight end Mason Schreck in the seventh.
“It felt like we did a good job with the draft,” Dalton said. “The guys we brought in, we’re adding some speed. I’m excited about the pieces we have and the new additions we’ve got coming in.”
With Green and Eifert returning to health and a year of experience with 2016 newcomers Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell, Dalton said he’s excited to see what the offense can do in its second season with Ken Zampese as coordinator.
“For (Zamp), it was the first time doing it, and going back he’s seeing things we could have done better as an offense,” Dalton said. “Things he could have done better and things we maybe could have streamlined – all the different things you think about during the offseason. I expect us to take a big jump. I think with the talent that we have we can do that.”