Cincinnati Bengals: 10 Worst Draft Picks in Franchise History

Scott SewellCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2011

Cincinnati Bengals: 10 Worst Draft Picks in Franchise History

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    Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf, Curtis Enis, Tim Couch—the list goes on and on. 

    There have been countless players who shined as the brightest stars in their college careers only to be drafted into difficult situations or suffer terrible luck in the professional ranks.

    We know that each of these players have talent—hell, we watched them dominate their peers every Saturday afternoon in the fall. 

    Couch, for example, threw for 4,275 yards and a 153.3 passer rating—in the SEC! He played six games against ranked opponents in his senior season, including a game against No. 1 Tennessee.

    Couch obviously had talent; sometimes, it's not just the player—sometimes it's the team too.  

    It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows professional football that the Cincinnati Bengals have suffered their fair share of bad draft choices. Some of the choices were reaches or miscalculations, some of them were good players who just weren’t placed in a position to succeed with such a horrible franchise and others just had terrible [spoken in Charles Barkley voice] luck.

    Just terrible [Charles Barkley voice again]. Terrible [I can't stop].

    Okay, I'm done. 

    Without further ado, I submit The 10 worst Bengals draft picks of all time.

10. Charles Fisher, Eric Ball and Marco Battaglia

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    The rest of the choices on the list are first-round picks, but there needed to be a spot for all the early second-round picks who accomplished virtually nothing for the Bengals. 

    Charles Fisher played in only one game before tearing his MCL, ACL and PCL.

    Eric Ball played seven seasons, accumulating an embarrassingly low career approximate value (AV) of five.

    Marco Battaglia never had more than 153 yards receiving in seven seasons. 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Charles Fisher was taken three spots ahead of LB Mike Peterson in 1999.

    Eric Ball was taken three spots ahead of FB Daryl "Moose" Johnston in 1989.

    Marco Battaglia was taken four spots ahead of WR Muhsin Muhammad in 1996.

9. Mike Cobb, 1977 (22nd Overall Pick)

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    Mike Cobb was a standout TE with Michigan State before being drafted by the Bengals with the 22nd pick in 1977.

    Cobb split five years between the Bengals and Bears from 1977-1982. He caught exactly zero passes for the Bengals before being traded to Chicago. Cobb found just a fraction more success in Chicago before finally moving onto the USFL in 1983. 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    WR Stanley Morgan was taken just two picks later by the New England Patriots. Morgan would go to four Pro Bowls and amass more than 10,000 yards receiving.

8. Billy Brooks, 1976 (11th Overall Pick)

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    Billy Brooks was a star WR with Oklahoma during the mid 1970s before being drafted 11th overall in 1976. At 6'3" and 202 pounds, Brooks was a big, easy-to-find target. 

    Unfortunately, his career fizzled out quickly and lasted just five seasons with a career AV of only 18 (nine of which came in 1977). 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    LB Larry Gordon was taken six picks later by the Miami Dolphins. Gordon was a fantastic linebacker for the Dolphins from 1976-1982, producing a 60 AV in just seven seasons. 

7. David Pollack, 2005 (17th Overall Pick)

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    David Pollack was an All-American defensive lineman at the University of Georgia in 2002 and 2004.  Pollack was selected by the Bengals with the 17th pick in the 2005 draft.

    After a very below-average rookie campaign, Pollack was injured in the second game of the 2006 season.  He suffered a spinal injury, and although he tried to rehabilitate himself, he ultimately decided to retire instead of risking further injury and possible paralysis. 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Roddy White, Heath Miller, Mike Patterson and Logan Mankins were all taken after Pollack.

6. David Verser, 1981 (10th Overall Pick)

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    David Verser was a WR from Kansas who was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1981 draft.

    Used primarily as a kick and punt returner, Verser never accumulated any significant rushing or receiving yards despite being drafted so highly. His six AV in six years makes him one of the least productive picks in Bengals franchise history. 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Chicago Bears tackle Keith Van Horne was taken with the very next pick. Van Horne played 13 seasons, totaling a career 84 AV.

5. Rickey Dixon, 1988 (5th Overall Pick)

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    Rickey Dixon is another Oklahoma Sooners standout who couldn't find success with the Bengals.

    Dixon was drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 1988 draft. After starting at FS for all of 1989, Dixon lost his spot in 1990 and was very soon after out of football altogether. 

     

    What Could Have Been?

    WRs Tim Brown and Sterling Sharpe were the next two picks in the draft. Brown would go to nine Pro Bowls in his career, while Sharpe went to five.

4. Jack Thompson, 1979 (3rd Overall Pick)

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    Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson was one of the best quarterbacks in Pac-10 history.

    He was drafted by the Bengals with the third overall pick in the 1979 draft, but ended up blocked for several years by possibly the best quarterback in franchise history, Ken Anderson. 

    Could this have been Aaron Rodgers' career if Brett Favre hadn’t left Green Bay

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Hall of Fame DE Dan Hampton was selected with the next pick in the draft.

     

    Side Note: No. 9 (1977), No. 8 (1976) and No. 5 (1979) were all from the same era! It’s shocking the Bengals still put together a good enough team to make a Super Bowl run just a few years later.

3. David Klingler, 1992 (6th Overall Pick)

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    David Klingler was one of the most prolific passers in college football history, setting nearly every passing record in the University of Houston record books during his junior season by throwing for 5,140 yards and 54 touchdowns. 

    Even though Klingler’s numbers dropped significantly in his senior season, the Bengals still believed they were drafting their quarterback of the future when they took Klingler with the sixth pick of the 1992 draft. 

    Unfortunately, Klingler played on some of the worst teams in NFL history. Constant pressure from defenses and a very poor offensive line caused Klingler to lose his confidence, and his career ultimately spiralled out of control. He would be out of the NFL in just six seasons, accumulating a lowly 11 career AV.

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Five-time Pro Bowl DB Troy Vincent was taken with the pick immediately following Klingler.

2. Ki-Jana Carter, 1995 (1st Overall Pick)

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    Ki-Jana Carter was a surefire superstar in the making. Every team in the league would've taken him with the No. 1 pick. Carter had just run for 1,539 yards and 23 touchdowns, while averaging a mind-boggling 7.8 yards per carry at Penn State. 

    Sensing the chance to pounce, the Bengals made a trade with the expansion Carolina Panthers to secure the rights to the first pick and select Carter. 

    Sadly, just three plays into his first preseason game, Carter injured his knee and never returned to his former self. After bouncing around the league for a few years, Carter finally retired in 2004 with a career 13 AV in seven seasons.

     

    What Could Have Been?

    Tony Boselli, Kerry Collins, Steve McNair and Joey Galloway were all taken soon after Carter.

1. Akili Smith, 1999 (3rd Overall Pick)

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    The quarterback class of 1999 was thought to be one of the deepest in league history. Five QBs were taken within the first 12 picks, and Smith was the third to be drafted.  

    The attached video of Akili being grilled by a Canadian reporter after a 42-9 loss in the CFL says pretty much all you need to know about how his short tenure with the Bengals worked out.  

    Adding insult to injury, the Bengals turned down a lucrative offer from the Saints, who were trying to move up to select to Ricky Williams.

     

    What Could Have Been?

    The next four picks in the draft were Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt and Champ Bailey.

     

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