No wide receivers were taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Ten were taken in the second round. The Rams selected Donnie Avery (# 33), the Redskins selected Devin Thomas (# 34), the Packers selected Jordy Nelson (# 36), the Bills selected James Hardy (# 41) and the Broncos selected Eddie Royal (# 42).
After the Vikings, Bears and Lions made their selections the Bengals were on the clock. With Chad Johnson's future with the team in doubt (at the time), and Chris Henry being waived well before the NFL draft, we figured that the Bengals would look to retool their wide receiver position. So they drafted Jerome Simpson. My immediate reaction to the selection was one of confusion. I wrote: "I'll be honest, I know little of Simpson (actually nothing), but we knew that the Bengals would look at wide receiver in the first three rounds. Scouts, Inc. listed Simpson as the 11th best wide receiver in the draft -- but the sixth selected."
They also picked up Andre Caldwell (# 97) and Mario Urrutia (#246) giving them three wide receivers in which to rebuild the position. However, Chad Johnson re-conformed with the team and Chris Henry was re-signed leaving the youthful transition at receiver a project for another season.
Simpson has one reception for two yards and one kickoff return for eight yards. Caldwell, dealing with injury much of the season, hasn't a reception yet, but has three kickoff returns for 88 yards. Urrutia is on the team's practice squad alongside another rookie receiver Maurice Purify, signed as a college free agent.
One of the stories this week is how he Eagles selected DeSean Jackson three spots AFTER the Bengals selected Simpson -- and doing a hellva lot more. Through nine games this season, Jackson has 38 receptions for 586 yards receiving and a touchdown. He's also rushed 10 times for 77 yards rushing and a touchdown. Simpson has little to show.
James Walker said that "Many cringed when the Bengals took receiver Jerome Simpson in the second round out of Coastal Carolina. Cincinnati's lack of a bigger scouting staff strikes again!" Ludwig points out the same. Granted, I cringed. And it's true that our scouting staff is embarrassing. At the same time, I think the comparison is very incomplete.
Here's why I think the whole point is mute, incomplete, and unfair to Simpson. The season is nine games old, as both of their young careers. DeSean Jackson doesn't have to leapfrog Pro Bowl all-star Chad Johnson or super-receiving machine (also Pro Bowl receiver) T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Antonio Chatman started the season as a dependable option and Chris Henry's threat is well-known. The team also keeps Glenn Holt active for kickoff returns. So the rookies have been the odd-men out.
Fact is that Simpson doesn't have the chance to get the playing time that Jackson does. Then again, if he were good enough, he should have claimed that number three spot if the coaches trusted him enough. Regardless, it's very hard to prove anything when you don't get the chance to get on the field.