Now that we've listed our ten draft busts (we'll chart those for you later), we wanted to point out something obvious that could be a serious concern when the Cincinnati Bengals select a draft pick less than two weeks from today. The Bengals suck, or have terrible luck, drafting quarterbacks in the first round. Ouch. Right? It's true. There's little evidence that makes a convincing argument that the Bengals know how to draft a first-round quarterback, or that a first-round quarterback won't be left to the laughing gods of injury (hence bad luck).
Now, now. I know what you're saying. What about Carson Palmer? True. Palmer did have a decent career in Cincinnati, especially before the elbow injury in 2008. Yet, he didn't win a playoff game, sports a losing record and the whole quitting on the team thing has sorted of grated the lot of us. Is he a bust? Probably not. No quarterback in franchise history has a higher passing percentage or quarterback rating and Palmer owns several single-season passing marks. Now that it's largely said and done, was he a good franchise quarterback? As divisive as this conversion could become, there's little evidence to support that, even if you factor in the lack of a supporting cast.
Yet, he is the team's best quarterback drafted in the first round. And even then, he's not without his detractors, some calling him a bust anyway for what he wasn't able to accomplish.
On to the heart of this post.
The Cincinnati Bengals have selected six quarterbacks in the first round, including Florida's Wayne Peace, a supplemental first round pick in 1984. The supplemental draft that year was designed to prevent a bidding war with the USFL and Canadian Football League, so NFL teams selected 84 players (75 from the USFL) over three-rounds. This draft also featured quarterback Steve Young and defensive end Reggie White. Peace played for the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits after college and then settled into a post-football career with State Farm Insurance, never throwing a pass with the Bengals.
The bad luck starts with the team's first quarterback selected in the first round. Greg Cook posted a 4-6-1 record in 11 games started in 1969 and that was it. No more. His career was essentially over already. But it's not as simple as that; there's more below the surface than a single-column of stats. His 9.411 yards/pass attempt and 17.5 yard/completion average remain rookie records today.
But what's truly amazing is that Cook played with a torn rotator cuff and a partially torn biceps muscle, still posting 1,854 yards passing and 15 touchdown passes. To him a torn rotator cuff and partially torn biceps muscle just got in the way of a promising NFL career in which the word dominance would also apply to the female population of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to recover from his injuries and retired, saving one failed comeback bid in 1973, supposedly to focus on dominating the female population afterwards. Bill Walsh had said that if not for the injuries, Cook could have become the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
In 1979, the Bengals selected Jack Thompson third overall. Designed to eventually replace a beaten and battered Kenny Anderson, Thompson proved inadequate at best. In his four seasons with the Bengals, Thompson completed less than half his passes, posted only 13 touchdowns and a career 55.1 passer rating. In 1992, it was David Klingler. In 1999, it was Akili Smith. And then in 2003, the Bengals finally picked up a quarterback in the first round that would actually play a sustained career with the Bengals, posting some tremendous performances.
Quarterbacks are always going to be granted a premium in bust discussions, not only for their generally high selections, but, at least in today's NFL, the money associated with that player. But most importantly, quarterbacks drafted in the first round are designed to become the team's franchise quarterback.
So while names like Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are being thrown around, just know that if the Bengals select a quarterback in the first round, nothing good could come out of it.