Chad OchoCinco = Chad NoMas
Jerome Simpson was drafted in the 2nd round for one reason and one reason only and that was to replace Chad Johnson (his name was Chad Johnson at the time). Jerome was targeted by several teams picking after the Bengals in the second round of the 2008 draft. The Bengals pulled the trigger and have never looked back.
Jerome had some huge hurdles to overcome from day one. Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmanzadeh, Chris Henry, Glen Holt, and Antonio Chatman were all in front of him on the roster.
Not to mention a major WR (Andre Caldwell) from the mighty Florida Gators of the SEC was picked a round later. Andre was the more polished of the two WR's, but the Bengals fell in love with Simpson and with good reason.
Simpson is everything the Bengals like in a WR and they seem to have a knack for picking top talent at the WR position.
After the hurdles of the roster, Jerome struggled with adjusting to the speed and intelligence of the NFL (as expected coming from the small school of Coastal Carolina). Jerome was also hampered by an injury to himself and other players on the team that limited is play on the field.
Simpson's own injury slowed his progress and injuries to others late in the season kept him from seeing playing time as it became necessary to "suit up" players that could contribute on multiple formations (I.E. special teams).
2009 is the year of Simpson. Regardless of what happens to Chad (I say he will be traded, but that is for a different story), Jerome will be worked into the game plan to ensure that he will be ready for when Chad does leave. Let's face reality, Chad will be gone one of these days for one reason or another.
Marv and Co. will need to figure out who they are going to feature as the heir apparent to Chad.
In my opinion I believe that JEROME SIMPSON will be the future of this team. Certainly Carson Palmer IS the "franchise" player, but the team needs a lively (not malcontent) player to entertain the fans and make fireworks for this offense. Watch for Jerome to position himself to be that guy.