The Bills had just lost a 3rd Super Bowl a couple months ago
Bill Clinton had finished his first 100 days in office
Terrorist recently made their 1st attempt on the World Trade Towers
Nirvana was in constant rotation on the radio while Meatloaf was doing anything for love on the pop stations
And the ashes were still fresh from David Koresh’s compound that the govt had burned down
But in Bengaldom, another draft, and another high draft pick was upon us.
The Bengals’ All-Pro LT Munoz was ending a long, successful career.
The Bengals were coming off a 3-13 season, and owned the #5 overall selection in the draft.
Everybody and their brother was mocking Willie Roaf to the Bengals with that 5th pick. He was La Tech’s stud LT, and the top O-Lineman in the draft. With expectations that QB’s named Bledsoe and Mirer would go in the top 4 picks, Roaf looked to possibly fall to Cincy at #5. It was a sure thing. A no-brainer.
But that was the problem – Mike Brown was making the selections – and he was a no-brainer.
Mike Brown figured with the stud tandem of Kevin Sargent and Joe Walter already on the roster, he was set at tackle, so why waste a top 5 pick on ANOTHER tackle?
Going with NEED over the best player available (not only the best player at that pick, but the best player in the whole draft), Mike Brown selected a DE for their 3-4 defense, which was a need pick.
The Bengals proudly selected John Copeland.
Copeland went on to register a miserable 24 total sacks for his career while Roaf reached 11 pro-bowls in his 12 years as a starter, and was an easy selection to enter Canton a few years ago. One fan in Europe was so upset over the selection of Copeland over Roaf, that he went and stabbed Steffi Graf in a tennis match.
Fast forward a few seasons...
Clinton had been replaced by the 2nd George Bush, and Nirvana was no longer a radio mainstay.
Branch Davidians & terrorists were out of mind, and the economy was booming.
1999 the Bengals selected Akili Smith, some thought they might target the freakish pass rusher Jevon Kearse. But the Bengals confidently avowed they already had their pass rusher (Reinard Wilson) and would therefore take the position of biggest NEED, a QB.
So the moral of this short story seems to be...
Take the best player available to you when you make your draft pick – even if it is not a position of greatest need. If the best player = your need, then great. But don’t, don’t, don’t ever reach for a position of need while bypassing much better players in the process.
So I just ask that the Bengals keep this in mind when drafting this weekend. Yes, we can use a safety and a RB, but please, don’t pass on much better players who may fall to us just to fill these perceived needs. If a Roaf of Willie falls to you, please don’t grab John’s Copeland instead!