Cincinnati Bengals: Biggest Draft Day Regret In Franchise History

By Jarrod Argobright
March 23, 2013 10:38 pm
410 Views 4 Comments

David Klingler. Ki-Jana Carter. Akili Smith. Peter Warrick.

These are just a few of the names that come to mind when one mentions the Cincinnati Bengals' all-time draft day busts. Cincinnati has picked in the upper half of the first round for the better part of two decades, yet rarely have they gotten it right.

Klingler, star quarterback from the University of Houston, and the Bengals sixth overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft, was thought to be the face of the Bengals franchise for the next decade. An up and down performance thru three seasons would lead the Bengals to bench Klingler in favor of undrafted backup Jeff Blake.

Carter, a No. 1 overall pick as a running back from Penn State, would be labeled a bust as well after suffering a career ending torn ACL early in his career.

Yet none of these individuals can be considered the biggest draft day regret in Bengals' history. That distinction would have to go to Dan Wilkinson, defensive tackle from Ohio State and No. 1 overall pick in the 1994 draft.

The Bengals thought they had selected the anchor to their defense, as Wilkinson came to the team as an All-American nose tackle for the Buckeyes (in his junior year at OSU, he amassed 13 tackles for loss.) In 1995, he would sack opposing quarterbacks eight times, leading all AFC interior linemen.

Yet early into his career Wilkinson would get into a nasty contract dispute with management, which would end up with Wilkinson making some very derogatory remarks toward the Cincinnati front office. In 1997 he would eventually be traded to the Washington Redskins.

What If?

Prior to the 1994 NFL Draft, the Bengals had many potential trade partners, including the New England Patriots, who were willing to give up their pick (No. 4-they selected future Pro Bowl LB Willie McGinest.) and other players, and the Arizona Cardinals who were willing to give up their pick plus running back Garrison Hearst.

In addition to passing up trades with New England and Arizona, the Bengals also passed up on future hall of fame running back Marshall Faulk (drafted 2nd overall by the St. Louis Rams) and future Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams.

Given that Wilkinson complained from the start that the Bengals weren't giving him a fair shake, they may have been better off going any other route.

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Previous Comments (4)

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2 years ago
The Cards were willing to give Cincy Garrison Hearst and the 4 pick? No thanks. Cincy should have just selected Faulk. Garrison Hearst was overrated.
2 years ago

That's not what the article says. The New England Patriots were willing to give the Bengals their first round pick (4th overall, that they used to select Willie McGinest) and other players.

The Cardinals were willing to give up Hearst and their first round pick (10th overall). I will admit that Faulk's career turned out better than Hearsts. However, my point is that, given the running backs on the Cincy's roster at the time, dealing for Hearst would have been an upgrade.

Hearst's 7,966 career rushing yards still would have put him among the all time leaders in Bengals history.

Thanks for reading.
2 years ago
Poor Bungles... I mean, Bengals. Great article... I linked to it in my piece about the 1999 draft!
2 years ago

Thanks for reading...Yeah it looks like the Bengals have finally turned the corner when it comes to drafts. But when you get it wrong as much as they have, the odds are you'll eventually get a few right sooner or later. Thanks again for the comment.

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