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Draft rounds 1-3 in the Marvin Lewis era


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I was feeling incredibly bored, and I had a thought in light of the recent draft class (particularly discussion of Vigil and half-serious comparisons to Caleb Miller) that I'd look back at all of the "first day" (using the old meaning of that:  rounds 1-3) draft picks during the Marvin Lewis era.  There've been a number of big hits and a number of complete whiffs.  I've ranked them purely by my own perspective with respect to a few criteria/questions:

~  Time spent with organization before moving on in free agency or retiring.  This means players still on their rookie contracts have an unfair advantage, but oh well.

~  Career disrupted by injury or ineffectiveness?  The former hurts a ranking less than the latter.

~  Value by draft round

~  Whatever else comes to mind

I've not included the players selected in 2015 or 2016 because the data available is still too limited.  The same could probably be said of 2014 I guess.

1.  Andrew Whithworth, 2nd round, 2006 -- I was expecting this to be a difficult choice, but once I had all the picks in front of me this one just stands out a great deal.  He was great value in the 2nd round and was a very serviceable guard early in his career.  Then when then need arose, he moved to tackle and has been a stalwart and leader for this team ever since.  Easy call.

2.  Andy Dalton, 2nd round, 2011 -- Say what you want about the guy, but the fact is he was a second round pick and the fifth QB selected that year.  The Bengals could have reached for such legends in the first round as Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, or Christian Ponder if they wanted to, but they took the receiver instead and let the draft's best pocket passer fall to them in the second.  Only Cam Newton rivals Dalton in this otherwise horrid QB class.  He's gotten the Bengals to the playoffs five times in five tries.

3.  Leon Hall, 1st round, 2007 -- He spent some of his earliest time in Joseph's shadow while the two formed one of the best tandems in the league.  He's the one that stuck around, and even if he's lost a step with age now we can't forget the great service he provided this team while he was here.  He's clearly the best corner of the Marvin Lewis era and perhaps even the best defensive back.

4.  AJ Green, 1st round, 2011 -- He was the most obvious pick ever, so that's all that held him back from a top three spot for me.  The Bengals have been known at times though to pick someone other than the most obvious pick ever, so give them credit for getting this right.  He's on pace to contend for every meaningful receiving record in Bengals lore and to have him arrive just as Chad departed made for a jarringly obvious upgrade.

5.  Carlos Dunlap, 2nd round, 2010 -- I considered putting him higher, but his career has developed a bit slowly.  He's pretty much where we need him to be at this point though if he can maintain the standard he set in 2015.

6.  Tyler Eifert, 1st round, 2013 -- It's hard to rank him any higher without seeing a little more first, but the sky is the limit.  I've never seen a better pass-receiving tight end in stripes, or anyone remotely close.

7.  Carson Palmer, 1st round, 2003 -- Yeah, yeah.  It ended badly, but I blame Carson alone for that.  Who knows where he could have ended up if the injuries hadn't piled on and he hadn't quit.

8.  Michael Johnson, 3rd round, 2009 -- I can forgive the one-year Tampa hiatus.  While he's been in stripes he has been very good, and the value of the pick is hard to argue in the 3rd round.

9.  Giovani Bernard, 2nd round, 2013 -- This feels a little high, but I can't find an option that is clearly more deserving.  He has a role and he fits it wonderfully if he is utilized well by his offensive coordinator.

10.  Pat Sims, 3rd round, 2008 -- Just like Johnson, I'll forgive the hiatus.  He's had one job his entire Bengals career and he has performed it pretty effectively.  Good third round value.

11.  Johnathan Joseph, 1st round, 2006 -- He'd be much higher since he blossomed into a top ten NFL corner, but obviously he didn't stick around.

12.  Rey Maualuga, 2nd round, 2009 -- This might not be agreeable to some, but I really appreciate the fact that he has lasted a while as a starter and has been a positive locker room presence all the while.  He's not the greatest middle linebacker in the world, but he has had his moments.

13.  Andre Smith, 1st round, 2009 -- Some people have called him a bust, which I find completely silly.  He was a solid RT when he finally got healthy and lasted longer than many anticipated before leaving in free agency.  I think Ogbuehi has big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively.

14.  Jeremy Hill, 2nd round, 2014 -- What do you even do with this guy?  Sometimes he looks like he can be the best running back in the league, sometimes he looks awful.  The fumbles are painful too, especially that one.  Still, he was a second rounder and his rookie breakout earned him enough respect for at least this rank.

15.  Kevin Zeitler, 1st round, 2012 -- I could consider moving him up, because I especially like that the Bengals were able to trade down and still snag him.  He's not perfect, but he's solid and I think/hope he'll be here a while.

16.  Brandon Thompson, 3rd round, 2012 -- Pat Sims part two, but with a bit more pass rush skill and perhaps a bit less run stuffing skill -- and so far less longevity, though that's not his fault.

17.  Madieu Williams, 2nd round, 2004 -- His time was limited, but he was more than serviceable when he was in stripes.  There was a terrible void at safety between his departure and the arrival of Reggie Nelson.  Anyone who remembers Kaesviharn and Ohalete can confirm that Madieu was an important piece.

18.  Landon Johnson, 3rd round, 2004 -- He was a reliable and versatile backup that Marvin definitely appreciated.  When the Bengals were in a tough spot and needed him to start, he tended to respond admirably.

19.  Eric Steinbach, 2nd round, 2003 -- He wasn't in stripes long enough to move much higher than this, but he was definitely a good player.  The Bengals around 2005 fielded a hell of an offensive line and he was a big part of it.

20.  Mohamed Sanu, 3rd round, 2012 -- He didn't change the world in the slot, but he was incredibly versatile.  Both Gruden and Jackson got as much of out of him as could be reasonably asked, and he even had some huge performances when AJ Green was injured.  He didn't stay obviously.

21.  Shawn Williams, 3rd round, 2013 -- At first he looked like a total bust, but he has shown up in recent memory.  I'm not super thrilled about the thought of him starting in Reggie Nelson's spot, but we'll see.  I hope he continues to improve.

22.  Dre Kirkpatrick, 1st round, 2012 -- He hasn't been what you'd like a first round corner to be, but I do think he's better than he gets credit for.  He's a big time boom or bust corner in the vein of Antonio Cromartie or Deltha O'Neal for a direct Bengals comparison.  There's a place for that.

23.  Frostee Rucker, 3rd round, 2006 -- He's still in the league, so that means something.  I like this pick perhaps more than I should just because I remember how much people hated it at the time.  He has put together a respectable NFL career.

24.  Jermaine Gresham, 1st round, 2010 -- He might be the most annoying, infuriating, frustrating player ever, but he wasn't terrible.  He is quite productive frankly and has a few Pro Bowls to show for it.  Eifert is clearly superior, but Gresham wasn't an awful pick.

25.  Chris Henry, 3rd round, 2005 -- The Bengals' 2005 draft class is really a story of tragedy all around, and none more than this guy.  We all know what his problems were, but he was a fantastic talent on the field and his life was turning around before he lost it.  RIP.

26.  Darqueze Dennard, 1st round, 2014 -- He's looked fine in limited action.  I think it's fair to stick him right in the middle until there's more tape.

27.  Will Clarke, 3rd round, 2014 -- He's had limited opportunities, but I think he has done a nice job when he has seen the field.

28.  David Pollack, 1st round, 2005 -- The Bengals are in no way to blame for what happened to Pollack.  The decision to draft him as a linebacker instead of an end was a controversial one, but I think he was trending in a very positive direction before it ended.

29.  Jordan Shipley, 3rd round, 2010 -- Same story really.  I think he looked fantastic and it really sucks that he couldn't have had more time to play.

30.  Andre Caldwell, 3rd round, 2008 -- He gets some points for sticking in the league, particularly on a team with a decent receiving corps in Denver.  He was pretty mediocre in stripes though.

31.  Kelley Washington, 3rd round, 2003 -- His best contribution was the squirrel, but he had his moments.

32.  Odell Thurman, 2nd round, 2005 -- If only he hadn't been such a fool...

33.  Jerome Simpson, 2nd round, 2008 -- It took him forever to do anything at all, but in the end he turned out a decent enough receiver to help a baby Andy Dalton get set in 2011.  He's still around in the league too.

34.  Keiwan Ratliff, 2nd round, 2004 -- I hardly even remember his play beyond his utterly ineffective punt returning (he made Tate look awesome).  That must mean he wasn't horrible though.

35.  Keith Rivers, 1st round, 2008 -- In my opinion there are only two fair options when one considers the worst first round pick of the Marvin Lewis era, and this one of them.  He was the definition of mediocrity even independent of his injury problems, and once those hit he was done.

36.  Devon Still, 2nd round, 2012 -- He was never able to live up to his draft position or his collegiate notoriety even when healthy.

37.  Margus Hunt, 2nd round, 2013 -- If his career trajectory doesn't change this year, he'll end up as one of my greatest disappointments.  I really thought he could turn into something, but so far he's done absolujtely nothing outside the preseason.

38.  Caleb Miller, 3rd round, 2004 -- He at least was available to play when he was needed... but it was ugly when he did.

39.  Brandon Ghee, 3rd round, 2010 -- This might be the most injury-proned player I have ever seen.  He might deserve a higher ranking since he has shown very brief flashes, but it's hard to justify.

40.  Chris Perry, 1st round, 2004 -- What is sometimes lost in the bad memories of Perry is the fact that when he saw the field he was actually somewhat productive.  Unfortunately there's the rub.  This is especially painful since they passed on Steven Jackson to get him.  Twice.

41.  Dontay Moch, 3rd round, 2011 -- I'm still waiting for the inevitable day when this heavily-touted talent actually does something.

42.  Kenny Irons, 2nd round, 2007 -- I feel bad putting him here, because his injury was just awful luck.  Shit happens.

43.  Chase Coffman, 3rd round, 2009 -- He produced just as much as Irons did.  Uh.


I didn't spend a great deal of time thinking about precise rankings here, I just kind of threw them up in tiers as my whims decided.  Talk about it if you care; I'm sure some of you will disagree with some of this.  This exercise left me pretty underwhelmed by the Bengals' early-round draft performance under Marvin, frankly.  To be fair though, some of his best-looking work has come in recent seasons and it's too early to tell how good those classes really are.

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Unless I wanted to get nit-picky, I think you hit right on with the list.  The glass half full side of me sees that we got decent production out of more than half of the total and of those with little to no production the majority were injury problems.

Only three or four would I consider complete whiffs, if injuries are taken out of it.

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AJ Green is number 1.   I don't care if it's deemed obvious or not.   Which it wasn't because many many many fans groaned at the pick and also were pissed they passed up the Atlanta trade.  

He is out of the box Pro Bowler.   I don't know how many All-Pro selections.    Clearly the favorite in line to be the next HOF Bengal assuming our vets continue to get screwed by the process.     IMO, he doesn't get enough credit for changing the franchise around.

Dre and Stein.   I'd have them higher.   They start.   Middle of the pack quality players.   Dre at a franchise position carries weight over role players like Landon and Brandon.

J. Joe would be higher but he also like his free Gatorade, I guess.



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Chase Coffman dead last.  Where he belongs.  And a footnote - the pick was a favor for an old friend and teammate of our tight ends coach, Jonathon Hayes.  Hayes is old friends with Chase Coffman's dad, Paul Coffman.  Paul and Jonathon Hayes became friends when they played together for the Chiefs for several years in the mid '80s.  

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I'm not sure it was a favor.   Chase was the classic first round talent that some how dropped to the 3rd round steal of the draft.    Somehow he's lasted 7 years in the league which is crazy because he can't block for shit and doesn't really catch any passes.


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Just thinking- Binns was the Fitzgerald of our taxi squad.  I have a feeling that Alford won't unseat Tate.... Not sure why but thinking back, a guy like Binns should have taken his spot and there have been others.... Kumerow last year for example.  Surely some one else can return kicks and punts as well as being a REAL option in the passing game

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When I think Bengals Tight ends, I always remember Sean Brewer from San Jose State.  From his Wiki:

Brewer was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round (66th overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft. However shortly after being drafted by the Bengals, it was discovered that Brewer had a three-pack-a-day cigarette addiction.[4]As a rookie in 2001, Brewer did not see any game action due to a pulled groin. Brewer sat out of the May 2002 mini-camp and voluntary workouts due to a slightly torn hamstring.[5] He returned to practice on May 21, 2002.[6

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The Wiki goes on to say that Brewer played his 2nd year with the Bengals with a deep bruise in his knee.  He later injured the knee and had surgery.  He eventually lost his spot due to knee troubles, Matt Schoebel and the dynamic Reggie Kelly-Tony Stewart duo.... Wow

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