The Bengals have had relative success with defensive draft picks in the first round during their rookie seasons. David Pollack, transferring from defensive end to outside linebacker, had a decent season of growth, recording 4.5 quarterback sacks -- two of which came on the final game of the year. Joseph only started nine games in 2006, but recorded 20 passes defensed, which he doesn't repeat until an injury-free 2009 season. Leon Hall exploded onto the scene with five interceptions and nearly 70 tackles his rookie season. Keith Rivers recorded the second most tackles before heading to Injured Reserve with a broken jaw.
Offensively, the Bengals haven't seen the same returns with offensive rookies drafted in the first round during their rookie seasons. Carson Palmer didn't play at all and Chris Perry was labeled Two-Carry Perry after 2004. Andre Smith spent much of his rookie season recovering from a broken foot that would sideline him against for much of 2010.
So when Cincy Jungle says, the Bengals are historically better off drafting someone on defense, we really, really, really mean it.
Yet, Jermaine Gresham is also proving us wrong. Having the best rookie season during the Marvin Lewis era on offense, Jermaine Gresham ranks third among all NFL rookies with 47 receptions -- first among rookie tight ends.
Several of this year's rookie class have made significant contributions already this year. Gresham and Jordan Shipley rank in the top-five in terms of receptions amongst all NFL rookies. Carlos Dunlap leads the team with 4.5 quarterback sacks. Brandon Ghee and Roddrick Muckelroy are two of the top-five tacklers on the special teams. We feel that we should throw out the "wait three years on draft classes and picks" disclaimer because someone else will. We're all about preemptive strikes.
This year's rookie class is standing out like the 2005 class, with Odell Thurman finishing the season as a finalist for defensive rookie of the year and Chris Henry becoming a nightmare for defenses that already had to account for Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Jonathan Fanene, last year's second-ranked pass rusher also came out of that class, but didn't come into his own until later in his career. Tab Perry ranked third with 1,562 yards on kickoff returns during his rookie season.How would you rate this year's rookie class so far?