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Was Akili Smith the Bengals’ biggest NFL Draft bust ever?

Akili Smith never lived up to his draft position, but you could argue there have been bigger busts in Bengals history.

Buccaneers v Bengals Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

When it comes to NFL Draft busts, the Cincinnati Bengals had a rough stretch of drafting quarterbacks before the Marvin Lewis era.

With the No. 3 selection in the 1999 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Oregon quarterback Akili Smith, marking what would become the biggest draft bust in franchise history, according to ESPN’s list of the 32 biggest draft busts for every NFL team.

Picking Smith at No. 3 overall after just one productive season at Oregon was bad enough, but what the Bengals missed out on was even worse. The Saints offered the Bengals nine draft picks to trade back in the hopes of obtaining running back Ricky Williams. The Bengals turned down the offer to select Smith, who then missed most of training camp because of a contract dispute. The Smith era didn't get much better. He was benched for good in just his second season and was out of the league after just four seasons, throwing only five career touchdowns and finishing with a 3-14 record as a starter. -- Katherine Terrell

From 1999-2002, Smith started 17 games, recorded a 3-14 record, completing only 46.6% of his passes, five touchdowns and 13 interceptions, good for a career quarterback rating of 52.8. During his second season (2000), the Bengals benched Smith, and he went on to start in just two games over the next two seasons before falling out of the league in 2003.

No one is disputing the fact that Smith never lived up to his draft position, but you could argue there have been biggest busts in the Bengals’ draft history... unfortunately. He may not even be the biggest quarterback bust in what’s a brutal history of making bad picks at this position for Cincinnati.

Houston’s David Klinger has a good argument after he was selected by the Bengals with their No. 6 pick in the 1992 draft. In four seasons with the Bengals, Klingler started 24 games, compiling a 4-20 overall starting record while posting 16 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and a 54.2 completion percentage.

Don’t forget about Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson, who was taken with the No. 3 selection in 1979 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, Thompson completed only 44.8 percent of his 87 passes with one touchdown and five interceptions. He finished his Bengals career completed just 47.3 percent of his passes for 2,072 yards with 13 touchdowns vs 19 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 55.1 and a starting record of just 1-4. He would get another NFL shot with the Buccaneers, but he went just 3-13 as a starter in Tampa.

You’ve also got guys like Keith Rivers, Archie Griffin, Chris Perry and Peter Warrick who make good arguments for being Cincinnati’s biggest bust. Every team has those draft selections they’d like to have back, but thankfully for the Bengals, most of their biggest blunders came before the Marvin Lewis era began.


Who do you consider the biggest draft bust in Bengals history?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Akili Smith
    (492 votes)
  • 25%
    Ki-Jana Carter
    (253 votes)
  • 2%
    Chris Perry
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    Jack Thompson
    (23 votes)
  • 10%
    David Klingler
    (108 votes)
  • 7%
    You forgot Cedric Ogbuehi
    (72 votes)
  • 2%
    (21 votes)
994 votes total Vote Now