Go out and talk to long-time Bengals fans and ask them what the biggest Bengals draft mistakes are. You'll get a wide variety of responses, including names like Akili Smith, Ki-Jana Carter and David Klingler. Another name that might pop up is Chris Perry, the Bengals first-round pick in 2004, a running back out of Michigan.
The Bengals had the No. 24 pick in the 2004 draft, a pick they acquired from the Denver Broncos (they originally had the No. 17 pick, but traded it to Denver, who picked up D.J. Williams, and moved back). They decided to drop back again, this time trading their pick to the St. Louis Rams. The Rams selected Oregon State running back Steven Jackson with the No. 24 pick and the Bengals, who dropped back to No. 26, took Perry.
Perry is now out of the NFL and Jackson has racked up the fourth most rushing yards in the NFL among active players.
Hind site is 20/20, right?
Perry never led the Bengals in rushing. After the Bengals decided to not go after Jackson, Rudi Johnson was the Bengals leading rusher, then Kenny Watson and then, when the reins were finally turned over to Perry in 2008, he fumbled five times in six starts before the Bengals brought Cedric Benson to Cincinnati. He's been the team's leading rusher ever since and Perry was drummed out of the league.
The Bengals will face the running back that they decided to let slip through their fingers in 2004 as they travel to St. Louis to play the Rams on Sunday. Head coach Marvin Lewis recently spoke about Jackson and the team's decision to move back in the draft on Bengals.com.
"Steven Jackson was a guy that we sat there and looked at in the draft and allowed the Rams to choose him," Lewis said. "We chose the other one because we were able to add a pick at that point. So, we did a lot of work with him and have a great deal of respect for him and knew he would be a player in the NFL. I don’t think he disappointed anybody. Runs strong, runs tough and so we’ve got a great deal of respect for him."
One of the main keys to the Bengals beating the Rams and keeping their playoff hopes alive will obviously be to stop Jackson, who has 895 yards and five touchdowns this season. Also, a key to their future success, especially with two first-round picks in the upcoming draft, will be not to pass up players that have the potential to carry a team the way Jackson has carried the Rams.