Rewind to 2003: The Bengals just fired Dick LeBeau after a 2-14 season and Marvin Lewis faces his first draft as a head coach. This picks went like this:
|4||Dennis Weathersby||CB||Oregon State|
|4||Jeremi Johnson||FB||Western Kentucky|
|5||Khalid Abdullah||LB||Mars Hill|
|6||Langston Moore||DT||South Carolina|
|7||Scott Kooistra||OT||North Carolina State|
|7||Elton Patterson||DE||Central Florida|
Forgetting what we know now about the Way Carson Palmer left this team, at the time he was the consensus number 1 pick. The fans were ready to ride the Southern California arm to the promised land and in the beginning it seemed possible. Steinbach was an anchor of the Bengals offensive line for years and was a big loss in free agency when the Bengals decided to re-sign Willie Anderson rather than Steinbach.
Kelly Washington was to be the yang to Chad Johnson's yin. While he did become famous for and end zone dance, he did not fill the role intended when drafted.
A book could be written on the luck of the Bengals next pick in Dennis Weathersby. After being mistaken for a gang member he was shot and seriously injured before the draft. The Bengals took a chance that he could return to the talent before the shooting and were almost rewarded. He recovered and played in four games before getting into a car accident that put him in a coma.
Jeremi Johnson and Scott Kooistra were the last two productive members from this draft. Johnson was a solid fullback and Kooistra was a contributing member to the Bengals line for several years.
Players passed on:
- Charles Tillman
- Anquan Boldin
- Osi Umenyiora
- Lance Briggs
- Jason Witten
In 2004, Marvin's picks went down like this:
|4||Matthias Askew||DT||Michigan State|
|6||Greg Brooks||DB||Southern Mississippi|
The drafting of Chris Perry was a head scratcher. In the spirit of honesty, I was a fan of the pick. Being an Ohio State fan I had to see more of Chris Perry than I cared for. Knowing now his durability issues in the pro game, it is surprising he was such a workhorse in the college game. Against Michigan State Perry amassed 51 carries on the day.
Keiwan Ratliff and Madieu Williams and Landon Johnson were all solid contributors to the Bengals defense. Williams was arguably one of the strongest players on the field for the 2004 and 2006 seasons. Johnson was a key player on some bad defenses and twice recorded over 100 tackles.
You can't argue the player that Robert Geathers has been for this team. The longest-tenured player on the roster was still a major contributor in the 2012 season. Stacy Andrews eventually became a starter on the offensive line and filled well enough for an injured Willie Anderson that a franchise tag was used on him.
Players passed on:
- Bob Sanders
- Darnell Dockett
- Chris Cooley
- Matt Schaub
- Jared Allen
Pausing here, the first two drafts of the Marvin Lewis era could be rated as solid. You are not going to hit a home run on every pick and at the time the Bengals seemed to fill holes and add some good core players. As we turn the page to 2005, it was not the talent that the Bengals did not find in the draft, it was the luck they didn't find. The 2005 draft turned out to be the kind of draft that could kill a team for a long time. Here were the picks:
|3||Chris Henry||WR||West Virginia|
|4||Eric Ghiaciuc||C||Central Michigan|
|5||Adam Kieft||OT||Central Michigan|
This draft just hurts. The amount of talent in the first 3 picks alone is enough to change a teams fortune in a short time. Pollack, Thurman and Henry showed Bengals fans at times what kind of skill they could bring to the team. All 3 underperformed for circumstances beyond the teams control. Pollack's neck, Thurman's bottle and Henry's decisions.
Ghiaciuc stopped the bleeding when Rich Braham was injured and then continued to be a starter for the Bengals the following season. Perry and Fanene both filled contributor roles for the Bengals during their time here.
Players passed on:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Roddy White
- Heath Miller
- Vincent Jackson
- Frank Gore
Can you really find a bust in these three drafts? Chris Perry probably. I hate to use injuries to equate to busts, but in his case it was multiple injuries that lingered and kept him off the field.