When the NFL Draft commences a week from tonight, the Cincinnati Bengals will have three picks in the first two rounds. Fans (including Bengals 101) have been salivating for some time now over the potential that adding three highly valued players brings to an already talented young team.
The history of the draft has shown, however, that this is a hit/miss proposition. The Bengals have sadly missed far more than they've hit over the last 30 years.
The anchor of both the Bengals 1980s Super Bowl teams was Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz. That hit was a home run for the team when they picked third overall in the 1980 draft. Many had shied away from Munoz because of his history of knee injuries which had limited him to eight games in his final two seasons at USC. Those concerns never came to bear as Munoz missed only three games to injury in his first 12 seasons as a Bengal. After that pick, however, the Bengals got only one more contributor, linebacker Ron Simpkins with their other 13 picks.
The following year, the Bengals took Kansas wide receiver David Verser with the 10th pick. Despite his blazing speed, that pick ended up missing in a big way. Fortunately, however, the team drafted a lanky kid out of Florida in the second round named Cris Collinsworth. He turned out to be pretty good.
It was 1984 before the Bengals had another top ten pick. Linebacker Ricky Hunley never lived up to his seventh overall draft position and neither did their other first round pick, another linebacker Emmanuel King. Their second round pick though was a quarterback out of Maryland named Boomer Esiason.
In 1992, the Bengals were back in the top 10 of the draft. David Klingler was chosen with the sixth overall pick after breaking all kinds of passing records at Houston. Safety Darryl Williams was chosen at the end of the first round. Williams had a decent career in Cincinnati before leaving in free agency. Second round pick Carl Pickens, a wide receiver from Tennessee was the gem of this draft though.
The 1990s were marked by multiple top ten picks. Despite landing such benchmarks as Willie Anderson and Corey Dillon in the first two rounds, the busts like Dan Wilkinson and Kijana Carter prevented the Bengals from forming the nucleus of a contending club.
It was 2001 before the Bengals drafted Pro Bowlers with both of their first two selections. DE Justin Smith and WR Chad Johnson became core talents on each side of the ball as Marvin Lewis began to rebuild the franchise.
The Bengals got two hits again in 2006 with Johnathan Joseph and Andrew Whitworth. 2010 saw the Bengals get Jermaine Gresham and Carlos Dunlap and of course last year with the Green and Dalton selections.
Can the Bengals make it three years in a row with solid picks in the first two rounds? If at least two of the three picks end up becoming Pro Bowlers, Bengals fans might see their team playing in another Super Bowl some time soon.
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