NFL Draft: Biggest Hits And Misses In Marvin Lewis Era - Part 1

Matthew Stockman

With the draft a few days away, I wanted to take a look back at some of the other drafts during the Marvin Lewis era. This is the first in a 3 part series.

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:

ROUND PLAYER POS. SCHOOL
1 Carson Palmer QB USC
2 Eric Steinbach OG Iowa
3 Kelley Washington WR Tennessee
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:

ROUND PLAYER POS. SCHOOL
1 Chris Perry RB Michigan
2 Keiwan Ratliff CB Florida
2 Madieu Williams S Maryland
3 Caleb Miller LB Arkansas
3 Landon Johnson LB Purdue
4 Matthias Askew DT Michigan State
4 Robert Geathers DE Georgia
4 Stacy Andrews OT Mississippi
5 Maurice Mann WR Nevada
6 Greg Brooks DB Southern Mississippi
7 Casey Bramlet QB Wyoming

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:

ROUND PLAYER POS. SCHOOL
1 David Pollack DE Georgia
2 Odell Thurman LB Georgia
3 Chris Henry WR West Virginia
4 Eric Ghiaciuc C Central Michigan
5 Adam Kieft OT Central Michigan
6 Tab Perry WR UCLA
7 Jonathan Fanene DE Utah

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.

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