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Bengals’ historical success after trading up in the NFL Draft

Brandon Wilson joined a select group of prospects who the Bengals moved up in the draft in order to select. Who were the others, and how does Wilson compare?

Texas State v Houston Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

When the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Brandon Wilson, he joined a very exclusive group of prospects for whom the Bengals traded up in the NFL Draft in order to select. In a history that spans half a century, the selection of Wilson was only the fourth such draft pick that involved the team moving up for a loftier positioning in the draft.

The Bengals gave up their sixth round pick (#217) and their seventh round pick (#227) to the Titans in order to move up to pick #207 to select Wilson, a defensive back who has also played running back, out of Houston. The Titans selected Corey Levin and Josh Carraway with the picks handed over by the Bengals, but at this point it’s hard to know how any of the three players involved in the trade will fare.

Wilson is a lesser-heralded, more athletic version of Michigan turned Browns player Jabrill Peppers. He’s an ultimate jack of all trades, who played offense, defense, and special teams. For comparison, Wilson ran a faster 40 yard dash (4.34 vs 4.46) than Peppers, had a much better vertical jump (41” vs 35.5”), a longer broad jump (133” vs 128”), and pumped out more repetitions on the bench press (24 vs 19).

On the field, the Bengals may envision Wilson as a defensive back. He had 133 tackles and two interceptions during the past three years at the cornerback position (both numbers are better than Peppers’ stats). They may also envision Wilson as an offensive weapon, although he only attempted 41 rushes for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a runner, and 11 receptions for 101 yards as a receiver. He never returned punts while at the University of Houston, but did return 44 kicks for a 25.5 yard per return average and two touchdowns.

So who are the other players the Bengals have traded up for, and have they been worth it?

2014 Russell Bodine

The Bengals made a trade with the Seahawks, acquiring:

  • 2014 fourth round pick (#111 - Russell Bodine)

The Bengals gave up:

  • 2014 fourth round pick (#123 - Kevin Norwood)
  • 2014 sixth round pick (#199 - Garrett Scott)

Bodine has spent all three seasons since being drafted as the Bengals’ starting center, playing in 48 out of a possible 48 games. Norwood, a receiver out of Alabama, spent one season with the Seahawks, catching nine passes for 102 yards. He played one game for the Panthers in 2015, and was last seen as a New York Giant. Scott, an offensive lineman out of Marshall, never played in an NFL game. Bodine has consistently struggled as the Bengals’ center, but it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Bengals, considering they’ve gotten three years of a starter in exchange for two players who no longer play in the NFL, and gave the Seahawks just 10 total games of service.

2002 Matt Schobel

The Bengals made a trade with the Panthers, acquiring:

  • 2002 third round pick (#67 - Matt Schobel)

The Bengals gave up:

  • 2002 third round pick (#73 - Will Witherspoon)
  • 2002 fifth round pick (#145 - Kyle Johnson)

Schobel, out of TCU, spent four seasons as a backup tight end for the Bengals. He averaged 31 catches for 315 yards and three scores per season. Witherspoon was a linebacker out of the University of Georgia who spent a dozen years in the NFL. Witherspoon never reached a Pro Bowl, but was a very successful and productive linebacker, accumulating nearly 1,000 career tackles in 189 games played. He also recorded 26.0 sacks, 14 interceptions, and forced 11 fumbles. Johnson, a fullback from Syracuse, never played for the Panthers, but found a home with the Broncos. He lasted four seasons, doing most of his production as a receiver, recording 323 yards and eight touchdowns through the air. The Bengals easily lost this trade, as Witherspoon’s career easily topped Schobel’s career, and one could reasonably argue that Schobel was the worst player of the three involved in the trade.

1995 Ki-Jana Carter

The Bengals made a trade with the Panthers seven years before their 2002 swap. This time, the Bengals acquired:

  • 1995 first round pick (#1-Ki-Jana Carter)

The Bengals gave up;

  • 1995 first round pick (#5-Kerry Collins)
  • 1995 second round pick (#36-Shawn King)

Although his career was shattered by an injury in the first preseason game he played, it’s difficult to find a better label for Carter than “draft bust”. He bounced around three teams in the NFL, totaling 1,144 rushing yards in seven seasons with 20 career touchdowns. Collins never became a great quarterback, but put together a long 17 year career as a mediocre starter. He finished his career with 40,000 passing yards and 208 touchdowns to 196 interceptions, and a sub-par 73.8 passer rating. Shawn King, a defensive end from LSU, never latched on as an NFL starter. He had a four year career in the NFL, playing for two different teams, totaling 8.5 career sacks.

Both Carter and King were total duds in the NFL. Collins was nowhere worth being the fifth overall pick in the NFL, but due to the longevity of his career and total production, he easily outpaced his Penn State counterpart, giving the Panthers a second win in trading down with the Bengals.

Hopefully, Wilson ends up being the best trade up in Bengals history. He’ll have a chance to start making a name for himself this summer.