Welcome to the first Bengals Draft Class Tournament. We have taken the past 16 Bengals' draft classes and seeded them one through 16. The readers of Cincy Jungle will vote for the winner of each matchup, with one draft class advancing and one being eliminated. The tournament will continue until the readers of Cincy Jungle have crowned a winner of the best Bengals draft class of the 21st century. Get the bracket and all the details here!
The run of five straight playoff appearances began with the 2011 draft, and for their success and collection of players, they come into the tournament as the second seed. Meanwhile, the 2008 draft class lacked any good players and failed to get out of neutral, with few players contributing more than occasional reserve roles.
2011 Draft Class (#2)
Despite Carson Palmer quitting the team, bringing in a brand new offensive coordinator, and dealing with a lockout, the Bengals wisely avoided the urge to draft a quarterback with the fourth pick. Instead, they selected A.J. Green who has simply been "elite" in his five years as a Bengal. He has reeled off five consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, and as many Pro Bowl selections.
With their second pick the Bengals had to avoid another urge. This time, they avoided the urge to draft Ryan Mallett and Colin Kaepernick, choosing Andy Dalton instead. Despite being the fifth quarterback taken in the draft, Andy Dalton has emerged as one of the clear top two in the draft. He has compiled a 50-26-1 record, with 124 touchdowns to only 73 interceptions, and has led the Bengals to a playoff berth every single year he has been on the team.
Fourth round pick Clint Boling has become a fixture a left guard, who is locked up long term and will likely be starting there for years. But the rest of the draft after the first two picks is easily forgettable.
Moch, Sands, Whalen, Lindsey, and Finley pulled down this group from being a higher seed, but the on-field success of the top two picks is undeniable. The question is how fan can this draft class be carried by Green and Dalton.
2008 Draft Class (#15)
If you fail badly enough, you might be likened to the Bengals’ 2008 draft class. First round pick Keith Rivers was so underwhelming that he was ultimately shipped to the Giants for a late round pick. And Rivers being drafted one pick before All-Pro Jerod Mayo doesn’t help matters.
Second round pick Jerome Simpson was drafted as a "high ceiling, no floor" player who did not bring any inherent receiver skills to the team other than tempting "athleticism". While he is best remembered for flipping over an Arizona Cardinals’ defender, and receiving weed shipments through the mail, he was no match on the field for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, taken four picks later by the Eagles.
Pat Sims and Andre Caldwell became mediocre backup players, but nothing more. Jason Shirley kept switching between offense and defense, excelling at neither. And the Bengals’ last three picks never made it onto the field.
It's one thing to bring a knife to the proverbial gunfight, but I can't help but feel this group brought a butter knife to said gunfight. Even with 10 picks, the #15 seed may not have enough firepower to stay alive long in the tournament.