Cincinnati Bengals All-Time Draft History

The Cincinnati Bengals went 2-14 in 2019. As a result, the Bengals will draft first overall for the first time since 2003, after going 2-14 in 2002.

Bengals last made the playoffs in 2015, and haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, possessing the league’s longest playoff win drought (29 years).

Perhaps, things will start to look up for the franchise as the Bengals are going to draft Heisman winning QB Joe Burrow from LSU.

In this article, I look back at the history of the Bengals and the NFL Draft, reviewing previous #1 overall picks, notable QBs drafted, and LSU players drafted.

History drafting #1

2020 will be the 4th time the Bengals draft #1 overall.

QB Carson Palmer (2003) – It ended ugly in Cincinnati for Palmer, but he had a really good 7 year career, leading the Bengals to two playoff appearances, including one in 2005 which snapped a 14 year playoff appearance drought for Cincy. Palmer was 46-51-1 in his career as a starter.

RB Ki-Jana Carter (1995) – Bengals moved up to #1 by trading their first (#5, QB Kerry Collins) and second (#36, DE Shaun King) round picks to the Panthers. Carter injured his knee in his first pre-season game and missed his entire rookie year. Injuries plagued him throughout his career. In addition to 1995, he also missed the 1998 and 1999 seasons (mostly) due to injuries.

Carter was drafted ahead of long-time LT Tony Boselli and QB Steve McNair. He was also drafted #1, one year after the Bengals passed on Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to draft a defensive tackle.

DT Dan Wilkinson (1994) – Wilkinson, drafted one spot ahead of Marshall Faulk, spent just four seasons with the Bengals. He clashed with ownership and had some bad things to say about the city of Cincinnati on his way out the door. In four years, Wilkinson, only missed 3 games, and recorded 25 sacks and 162 total tackles.

History drafting QBs

Bengals have drafted 37 quarterbacks all-time, dating back to their inaugural 1968 season. Here are the most notable QBs, including all 5 previously drafted first rounders.

First round QBs

Carson Palmer (2003, #1) – Palmer was the leader of an exciting offense that included RB Rudi Johnson and WRs Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and TJ Houshmandzadeh. In 2005, Palmer led the NFL with 32 TD passes and led the Bengals to their first playoff game since 1990. After 2010, Palmer “retired” in an attempt to force the team to release him and he was ultimately traded to Oakland for first and second round picks.

Akili Smith (1999, #3) – QBs went 1-2-3 in 1999. Tim Couch (#1), Donovan McNabb (#2), and Smith. The four guys drafted immediately after Smith – Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holy, and Champ Bailey.

Smith only started 17 games, and was 3-14 as a starter. He started late as a rookie, after a lengthy contract holdout, and reportedly failed to connect with teammates and grasp the playbook.

David Klingler (1992, #6) – In 24 starts, Klingler was 4-20 as the Bengals starting QB, throwing 16 TD and 21 INT.

Jack Thompson (1979, #3) – Not long ago, Thompson was listed as the 26th all-time NFL Draft bust. He started only 5 games with the Bengals, going 1-4 as starter. Thompson was a backup on the 1981 Super Bowl team.

Greg Cook (1969, #5) – 1969 was only the Bengals’ second year of existence, and they were members of the AFL. Cook won AFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, starting 11 of 14 games, going 4-6-1 throwing 15 TD, 11 INT. Cook led the league with 9.4 yards per attempt. He was forced to retire early due to a serious shoulder issue.

Notable non-first round QBs

Andy Dalton (2011, 2nd round, #35) – In 2011, Dalton was drafted one spot ahead of Colin Kaepernick and one round after Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder. In 9 seasons, Dalton has missed just 11 games, and is a rare Bengals QB with an all-time winning record – 70-61-2. During a stretch of 5 straight playoff appearances, Dalton went 0-4 from 2010-2014.

Boomer Esiason (1984, 2nd round, #38) – Boomer was 62-61 in 10 seasons as the Bengals starting QB. In 1988, he did the unthinkable – he led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, a 20-16 loss to the 49ers. That season, Esiason was named league MVP, All-Pro, AFC Player of the Year, and made 1 of his 3 Pro Bowls as a Bengal.

Ken Anderson (1971, 3rd, 67) – Before Esiason, there was Ken Anderson. Anderson and Esiason are the only 2 QBs in Bengals history to win playoff games, and Anderson did it first, in 1981. That year was their first Super Bowl, they lost XVI to the 49ers. He spent his entire 16 year career with the Bengals, winning MVP during that 1981 season and Offensive Player of the Year. In 1981, he was First-team All-Pro, and 2 other times was named Second-team and he made 4 Pro Bowls. Anderson is one of the best NFL players to not make the Hall of Fame.

Ryan Finley (2019, 4th round, #104) – To be honest, there’s nothing notable about Finley, other than the fact that he is the last quarterback drafted by the Bengals. Last year, Cincinnati drafted him to backup Dalton and he ended up starting 3 games (losing all 3), completing just 47% of his passes and throwing 2 TD, 2 INT. Bengals will hope the next QB they draft is better than the last one.

History drafting players from LSU

Joe Burrow will become the 9th player from LSU to be drafted by the Bengals.

RB Jeremy Hill (2014, 2nd round, #55)

2014-2017 – Exceeded 1,000 yards only once, during his 2014 rookie season (1,124 yards) and ran for 5.1 yards per carry. His 29 career TDs were all scored between his first three seasons.

WR James Wright (2014, 7th round, #239)

2014, 2016 – Wright played 24 games, mostly on special teams. He caught 18 career passes for 197 yards and no TDs.

LT Andrew Whitworth (2006, 2nd round, #55)

2006-2016 – Whitworth missed just 8 games during his 11 year career with the Bengals (6 in 2008, 2 in 2013) and after his rookie season, started every game played (211 career starts).

WR Bennie Brazell (2006, 7th round, #231)

Never played a game for the Bengals.

S Mark Roman (2000, 2nd round, #34)

2000-2003 – Roman played cornerback (2000-2001) and free safety (2002-2003) for the Bengals. In 50 games (27 starts), he had 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, and 173 total tackles.

RB Charles Alexander (1979, 1st round, #12)

1979-1985 – Alexander spent his entire 7 year career with the Bengals. In 1980, he ran for a career-high 702 yards. Beyond that, he exceeded 500 yards one other time (1983) and never ran for more than 3 touchdowns in any season.

LB Bo Harris (1975, 3rd round, #77)

1975-1982 – Harris his entire 8 year career with the Bengals. He had 7 career interceptions and 1 touchdown and 2 sacks.

DB Tommy Casanova (1972, 2nd round, #29)

1972-1977 – Casanova was used solely as a punt returner, and on 91 career returns, ran just 1 back, as a rookie in 1972.

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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