The 5 best and 5 worst first-round draft picks in Bengals franchise history
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Much uncertainty surrounds just who the Bengals will select with the ninth pick overall in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 27, but one thing is for sure they can't afford for that player to become a bust.
ESPN.com recently listed the top first-round bust for each NFL team, and made quarterback Akili Smith the top first-round bust in Bengals history.
He was certainly awful, but was he really the worst? And what first-round pick was the best?
Here is a ranking of the top five worst and top five best first-round picks in Bengals history:
5. TE Mike Cobb (1977, No. 22 overall)
The Skinny: Cobb certainly looked the part of standout tight end at 6-feet-5, 244 pounds, but he never caught a pass in his one season with the team and was traded to the Chicago Bears prior to the 1978 season for a fourth-round pick in the 1979 draft. He finished his career with just 11 receptions in five seasons, the final four with Chicago. It wasn't like he came out of a great passing offense in college as he had just 32 receptions in four seasons at Michigan State.
4. WR David Verser (1981, No. 10 overall)
The Skinny: The Bengals thought the speedster from Kansas would be a great weapon opposite Isaac Curtis, but it turned out the wide receiver the team selected in the round was instead, and what was Cris Collinsworth, who wound up with 67 receptions for 1,009 yards and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. Verser wound up with 23 receptions for 454 yards ... for his career, which came to an end with the Bengals in 1984. He did serve as the team's main kickoff returner in 1981 and averaged 23.8 yards per return.
3. QB David Klingler (1992, No. 6 overall)
The Skinny: He was tabbed to be the guy to replace Boomer Esiason and snap the Bengals out of a funk that began with a playoff loss at the Los Angeles Raiders that concluded the 1990 season. Instead, Klingler was a disaster, going just 4-20 in 24 starts in 1992, 1993 and 1994. He completed only 54.6 percent of his passes and threw just 16 touchdowns passes and 22 interceptions. His passer rating was a woeful 65.1. In his defense his top wide receivers were an aging Tim McGee, an unproven Carl Pickens and in 1993 Jeff Query was the team's leading receiver. It also didn't help that the offensive line was wretched, which led to Klingler being sacked 82 times in 28 games he played.
2. QB Akili Smith (1999, No. 3 overall)
The Skinny: With Tim Couch going No. 1 and Donovan McNabb No. 2 in 1999 the Bengals opted to grab a quarterback as well in Smith, and it didn't work out well at all. He couldn't read defenses, was an inaccurate passer and had no leadership ability either. His career consisted of 22 games, 17 of which were starts, from 1999-2002, and he went just 3-14. He completed an incredibly poor 46.6 percent of his 461 career pass attempts with only five touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a rating of 52.8. He could run a little - he did rush for 371 yards in his 22 games - but he was also sacked 59 times.
1. DL Pete Koch (1984, No. 16 overall)
The Skinny: He made just six total tackles as a rookie and was so bad he was released prior to his second season. It's obvious the Bengals didn't waste much time deciding on whether or not Koch could play. He did wind up playing 42 games with Kansas City and Oakland over the next four seasons, including starting all 16 games for the Chiefs in 1986 at defensive end. He eventually moved into a career as an actor.
5 more to consider (in order): 6, QB Jack Thompson (1979, No. 3 overall); 7, LB/DE Reinard Wilson (1997, No. 14 overall); 8, DE Glen Collins (1982, No. 26 overall); 9, DE Jason Buck (1987, No. 17 overall); 10, DL Dan Wilkinson (1994, No. 1 overall).
Note: Linebacker Ricky Hunley was not considered as he held out after being drafted No. 7 overall in 1984 and was eventually traded to Denver for three future draft picks, two of whom turned out to be wide receiver Tim McGee and safety David Fulcher, who both had good careers, so something good did come out of drafting Hunley.
Note No. 2: RB Ki-Jana Carter, LB David Pollack and RB Chris Perry were not considered due to careers being cut short due to injuries.
5. C Bob Johnson (1968, No. 2 overall)
The Skinny: The Bengals' first-ever college draft selection started from his first game as a rookie in 1968 and started every game he played through the 1977 season, missing four games in 1974. He was selected to only one Pro Bowl (1968), but anchored the offensive line for 10 seasons, and the Bengals made the playoffs in three of them (1970, 1973 and 1975). He retired after the 1978 season, but came out of retirement for five games in 1979 to serve as the team's long-snapper.
4. OT Willie Anderson (1996, No. 10 overall)
The Skinny: He was a rock along the offensive line from his rookie season to 2006, and started all 158 games he was healthy from 1997-2006, missing only two games in 1999. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2004, 2005 and 2006. There is even a small push to try and get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even if he doesn't it was a pick well worth it.
3. QB Carson Palmer (2003, No. 1 overall)
The Skinny: No matter how you may feel about they way he forced a trade out of Cincinnati, the bottom line is he was a very good player who helped turn the organization from a loser into a winner. He ranks third in franchise history in yards passing (22,694) and touchdown passes (154) and led the Bengals to two playoff appearances (2005 and 2009), and who knows what would have happened in 2005 if he hadn't gotten hurt on his very first pass attempt against Pittsburgh?
2. WR A.J. Green (2011, No. 4 overall)
The Skinny: He already ranks No. 2 in franchise history in receiving yards (7,135), ranks fourth in total receptions (481) and fourth in touchdown receptions (49). He is just 50 receptions shy of moving up to No. 2 in franchise history. Green narrowly missed becoming just the second receiver in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first six seasons (Randy Moss is the other) and that was due to him missing the final six games because of a hamstring injury.
1. LT Anthony Munoz (1980, No. 3 overall)
The Skinny: It's funny to think of it now, but the choice of Munoz was actually considered a risk, because he had battled knee injuries his last two seasons in college, which limited him to just eight games in those two years combined. It turned out to be a genius decision, because Munoz wound up having a Hall of Fame career that included 11 Pro Bowl appearances and nine first-team All-Pro selections in his 13 seasons with the team. He also started in both of the team's Super Bowl appearances.
5 others to consider (in order): 6, Isaac Curtis (1973, No. 15 overall); 7 DT Mike Reid (1970, No. 7 overall); 8, WR Eddie Brown (1985, No. 13 overall); 9, DE Eddie Edwards (1977, No. 3 overall) 10, G Kevin Zeitler (2012, No. 27 overall).