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Bengals 21st Century Draft Class Tournament: Round One - #5 (2003) vs #12 (2002)

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Can Levi Jones and Marquand Manuel lead the underdog 12th seeded 2002 draft class to an upset victory over Carson Palmer' #5 seed 2003 Draft Class?

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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!

Every year, the 5 vs 12 matchup seems to be a trendy upset pick in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. But in this tournament, the underdog may not have enough firepower to pull off the upset against the draft class which was the first in Marvin Lewis' tenure as head coach of the Bengals.

2003 Draft Class (#5)

Years

All

Pro

Games

Year

Rnd

Pick

Pos

From

To

Pro

Bowl

G

GS

2003

1

1

Carson Palmer

QB

2004

2015

0

2

160

159

2003

2

33

Eric Steinbach

G

2003

2011

0

0

125

124

2003

3

65

Kelley Washington

WR

2003

2010

0

0

91

8

2003

4

98

Dennis Weathersby

DB

2003

2003

0

0

4

0

2003

4

118

Jeremi Johnson

FB

2003

2009

0

0

96

58

2003

5

136

Khalid Abdullah

LB

2003

2003

0

0

16

0

2003

6

174

Langston Moore

DT

2004

2008

0

0

51

9

2003

7

215

Scott Kooistra

T

2003

2011

0

0

84

1

2003

7

259

Elton Patterson

DE

2004

2004

0

0

8

0


The 2003 draft class was the foundation of what would become the long-tenured Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer was the first overall pick in a year which lacked any other quality quarterbacks. Palmer gave the Bengals a good run of seasons which went from elite, to very good, to ok, to quitting. But regardless of how he left town, to still be starting a dozen years later is a testament to his success.

The selection of left guard Eric Steinbach addressed a much needed area on the roster on the offensive line. Unfortunately he followed the money, and left after four seasons, but was a good NFL left guard.

Fullback Jeremi Johnson gave the Bengals’ a good run as their lead blocker, which was a position they struggled to fill after his tenure was over.

Some of the picks were a bit questionable, such as Dennis Weathersby, who had been shot by a gun before the draft, and only played four games in the NFL. Kelley Washington never lived up to the potential, and the rest of the picks were career backups. This group will advance in the tournament only as far as Carson Palmer can carry them.

2002 Draft Class (#12)

Years

All

Pro

Games

Year

Rnd

Pick

Pos

From

To

Pro

Bowl

G

GS

2002

1

10

Levi Jones

T

2002

2009

0

0

103

97

2002

2

41

Lamont Thompson

DB

2002

2007

0

0

83

45

2002

3

67

Matt Schobel

TE

2002

2008

0

0

99

24

2002

4

109

Travis Dorsch

P

2002

2002

0

0

1

0

2002

6

181

Marquand Manuel

DB

2002

2009

0

0

116

58

2002

7

219

Joey Evans

DE

0

0


It’s hard to believe that the 2002 Bengals draft class was the last one where Marvin Lewis wasn’t involved. How long ago was the 2002
NFL draft? Back in 2002 we were just half a year removed from the three World Trade Center buildings falling on September 11th, and people were wondering if that American Idol show about to debut would ever last.

First round pick Levi Jones was a solid left tackle for the Bengals. While never "elite", and not as good as some players taken after him in round one, such as Ed Reed, Dwight Freeney, Jeremy Shockey and Albert Haynesworth, he was a solid player.

Second round pick Lamont Thompson only played one season in Cincinnati, so it’s hard to call that a successful selection. For their next pick, the Bengals traded up to get Matt Schobel, who finished eighth among 2002 tight ends in career receiving yards, and ninth in receptions. So again, not exactly a successful move. The Bengals burned a fourth round pick on a punter who played in one NFL game, so again, the theme continues.

The best pick of the whole draft for the Bengals may have been Marquand Manuel, who became a mildly productive reserve and backup, which is a decent value as the 181st player selected.

This #12 seed is not an easy out, but do Levi Jones and Marquand Manuel have enough support to overtake Palmer and the 2003 draft class?