Since 2005 it has become clear that the Bengals have had some pretty bad luck drafting in the third round (made even more evident by Shipley's release today). Just look at the list of our recent third round picks (excluding 2012):
2011 - Dontay Moch:
It's too early to call him a bust, but he hasn't had a very promising start to his career at this point.
2010 - Jordan Shipley:
We all know how his career as Bengal came to an unexpected end after today. He did show some real promise as a rookie though.
2010 - Brandon Ghee:
Unfortunately, he just can't seem to stay healthy.
2009 - Michael Johnson:
Johnson has been a solid player for us. Some question his motor as well as his run defense, but he has definitely been one of our more productive third round picks.
2009 - Chase Coffman:
2008 - Pat Sims:
Has been a huge asset in the defending the run for the past few years, but he has been plagued by injury and finds himself in real danger of losing his spot on the roster this year.
2008 - Andre Caldwell:
Caldwell saw his share of highs and lows as a Bengal, but didn't show enough in the end to get another contract offer after his rookie deal expired.
2007 - Ahmad Brooks (Supplemental Draft):
2007's third round pick was forfeited in order to draft Ahmad Brooks in the 2006 supplemental draft. Brooks turned out to be a solid player, just for the 49ers instead of the Bengals.
2006 - Frostee Rucker:
Frostee was a major role-player for us last season, but prior to that he had trouble staying on the field. Then, just as he was coming into his own, he bolts to play for the Browns.
2005 - Chris Henry:
Fantastic player with a very troubled personal life and some off the field issues. Everyone knows the tragic incident that ended his Bengals career (R.I.P).
To better illustrate this point, let's take a look at the percentage of players who have become major contributors on our roster from the top four rounds since 2005 (I'm excluding the 2012 draft since they have yet to play a full season):
1st: 66% (4/6)
2nd: 50% (3/6)
3rd: 30% (3/10) - this is assuming Moch pans out, otherwise we're looking at 20% here....
Contributors: Michael Johnson, Pat Sims, Dontay Moch (Maybe?).
Underachievers: Brandon Ghee (He still has a chance to shed this label if he can get healthy), Jordan Shipley (Yes I'm giving him the underachiver label because one solid season is not enough production for a 3rd rounder), Chase Coffman, Andre Caldwell (He's right on the border, but with career numbers of 1,172 yards and 6 tds in four seasons I'd have to go bust - to put those numbers in perspective they are almost identical career numbers to Jerome Simpson who only really played a season and a half for us and was also labeled a bust for the second rounders above), Ahmad Brooks, Frostee Rucker (he was almost a roster cut last preseason, but played well and stayed healthy last year for the first time. That's not enough IMO), Chris Henry.
4th: 62.5% (5/8)
I realize that the third round is generally not a round full of sure fire prospects, but it seems as though the Bengals have had more success drafting in even later rounds during this stretch (specifically the 4th) which seems odd to me. One would expect the number of quality NFL players resulting from each round of the draft to decrease as you go, but the Bengals don't seem to agree. It's also possible that we are just very good at drafting in the fourth round which makes our third round results look worse than they are.
A lot of these players drafted in the third round aren't necessarily a reflection of poor drafting or even a poor ability to develop talent. We just seem to be having a run of bad luck. Hopefully Mohamed Sanu and Brandon Thompson (along with Dontay Moch & Brandon Ghee) can break this trend for us.