The Bengals have been very good at maneuvering the NFL draft in recent years. However, one draft that did not pan out well at all was the 2008 draft. Only one player, Pat Sims, is still with the Bengals from that particular draft class. Only he and offensive tackle Anthony Collins lasted longer than their rookie contracts with the team, and only a few more players even made a remote impact in their short tenures with the team.
Wouldn’t it, then, be nice if the Bengals could go back and do that entire draft over? Almost every pick would be different, and hopefully the Bengals could find contributors in every round. With the power of retrospection, this is how the Bengals should have drafted that year, considering some of the players who were still available when they picked:
Round 1, pick 9: Keith Rivers, LB, USC
New pick: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
The Bengals’ defense needed a lot of help on defense before 2008. The addition of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer helped in 2008 and beyond, but they still had a lot of issues defending against the run. Rivers developed into an ‘ok’ starter for four years before being traded to the Giants for a 2012 fifth round pick that turned into George Iloka. But, Mayo was a standout, two-time Pro Bowler in New England and better at every stage of his career than Rivers.
Round 2, pick 46: Jerome Simpson, WR, Coastal Carolina
New Pick: DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
Simpson will forever be known in Bengals history as the guy who flipped over Cardinals’ linebacker Daryl Washington for a touchdown, putting the Bengals up 17-0 in a game they would eventually win 23-16. However, the rest of his career with the Bengals was mostly forgettable. The Bengals let him walk after his rookie contract expired and he spent the next three seasons between the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, once again in forgettable fashion. Jackson, on the other hand, put together an impressive six years with the Philadelphia Eagles before moving to the Washington Redskins in 2014. He continues to be considered one of the better wide receivers in the NFL today, while Simpson has been out of football for over a year.
Round 3, pick 77: Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
New pick: Cliff Avril, DE, Purdue
While Sims did provide a solid option for the Bengals as a backup defensive tackle for four years, and again over the last two after spending time with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and 2014, the Bengals could certainly improve over his production. Avril, on the other hand, was impressive as a starter for five years with the Detroit Lions and has been an absolute force at defensive end since moving to Seattle. Even if the Bengals couldn’t have retained him long-term, he would have been a much better option at defensive end at the time than Robert Geathers or Antwan Odom.
Round 3, pick 97: Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
New pick: Thomas DeCoud, FS, Cal
Caldwell was minimally productive in four years with the Bengals before moving to the Denver Broncos and being even less productive at that point. Instead, they could have landed DeCoud, whose short-lived NFL career was impressive enough at times for the Atlanta Falcons. At a crowded safety position that transitioned from Chinedum Ndukwe, to Dexter Jackson, to Reggie Nelson, a consistent presence like DeCoud could have helped stabilize things much more than Caldwell at wide receiver.
Round 4, pick 112: Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas
No new pick
The first and only remaining pick from the Bengals draft, Collins did what he was expected to do. When the Bengals needed to shift things up on offensive line, Collins filled in nicely at both left guard and left tackle. Unfortunately, his transition to the Buccaneers did not go smoothly in 2014, and he has been out of football for the last two seasons. Still, he panned out well for the Bengals, so he stays.
Round 5, pick 145: Jason Shirley, DT, Fresno State
New pick: Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State
The Bengals needed a tight end at some point in this draft. Unfortunately, with both Martellus Bennett and Gary Barnidge already off the board, the Bengals have to settle for the only decent remaining option. Davis put together a solid four-year career with the Bears and resurfaced for a two-year stint with the Jets in 2015. Still, he would have been a better pick than Shirley, who only played in three games with the Bengals, and would have been a better tight end than Ben Utecht.
Round 6, pick 177: Corey Lynch, S, Appalachian State
New pick: John Sullivan, C, Notre Dame
The Bengals were desperate for help at center in 2008, only two years removed from Rich Braham’s retirement. At the time, they were trying to make the Eric Ghiaciuc experiment work and weren’t too far off transitioning into the Kyle Cook experiment. They could have avoided the latter and ended the former by selecting All-Pro center John Sullivan in 2008, likely giving Russell Bodine more time to develop before being thrust into the starting role.
Round 6, pick 207: Matt Sherry, TE, Villanova
New pick: Justin Forsett, RB, Cal
The Bengals’ need for a tight end in 2008 was common knowledge, but picking up a guy who never recorded any stats for the Bengals in two seasons wasn’t the right answer. With Kellen Davis already being picked in the re-draft, the Bengals get to pick up some help for Cedric Benson in Justin Forsett. He was a solid backup for the Seahawks for a few years before bouncing around the league and eventually turning into a Pro Bowl starter for the Ravens.
Round 7, pick 244: Angelo Craig, DE, Cincinnati
New pick: Mike Tolbert, FB, Coastal Carolina
One of the better fullbacks in Bengals history, Jeremi Johnson, was nearing the end of his time with the Bengals in 2008. He would survive on the roster until November of that season before he was released. But, the Bengals went through a slew of uninspiring fullbacks before finding Ryan Hewitt in 2014. That could have all been avoided if they had picked up the eventually undrafted Tolbert, who turned into a somewhat productive player with the Chargers before becoming a three-time Pro Bowler with the Panthers.
Round 7, pick 247: Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville
New pick: Danny Amendola, WR, Texas Tech
While Amendola bounced around the NFL for his first two seasons before impressing with the Rams and eventually becoming an offensive staple with the Patriots, the Bengals still needed some extra help at wide receiver, especially considering the switch from Andre Caldwell to Thomas DeCoud in the third round. I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Amendola’s NFL career has been more impressive than Urrutia’s, who spent two seasons on the Bengals’ practice squad before bouncing around practice squads in 2009.
Since 2010, Urrutia has bounced between the United Football League, the Arena Football League, the Continental Indoor Football League, and the Canadian Football League, never earning a final roster spot. It’s a wonder he was drafted and Amendola wasn’t.