Listed below is a list of what I believe to be Mike Brown’s biggest draft busts. Brown was recently named the #1 worst-decision maker in the NFL draft by Yahoo Sports. Brown took over ownership in 1991 and has been responsible for every draft since 1992. The rankings go from 10 to 1, 1 being the worst.
10. Keiwan Ratliff (2004 – 2nd Round, 49th pick, CB from Florida):
The Bengals drafted Ratliff and immediately game him the chance to take over as one of their key corners, as players such as Tory James and Deltha O’Neal were aging. Ratliff seemed lazy on the field at times and in three full seasons with the Bengals Ratliff only managed to average 33 tackles and one interception a year. I can still remember Ratliff getting burned by elite receivers clear as day. Good luck with the Indy.
9. Chris Perry (2004 – 1st Round, 26th pick, RB from Michigan):
Oh the Bengals thought they found a gem in Chris Perry at the end of the 1st round in 2004… boy were they wrong. Sure, Perry has been plagued by injuries but the thing is he’s been given a chance to come back and was even given the starting nod in 2008, after sitting out 2007. People still believed they would possibly see the 2005 version of Perry but instead they received 269 yards and a 2.6 YPC average on the ground. I partially blame Michigan for his injuries as he was used as a work-horse in college, averaging close to 35 carries per game and was even given 51 carries in one game!
8. Odell Thurman (2004 – 2nd Round, 48th pick, LB from Georgia):
You may be saying to yourself how can a guy who put up 98 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles be considered a bust in his lone season? One reason, the Bengals took a chance on Odell although he had a troubled past. After violating team rules the Bengals game him one more chance, and then one more…. You know what the end result was. A kid with this kind of potential can’t take this gift for granted. What guys like David Pollack would give to be able to play the game again. You’re a bust not because of how you played in your lone year on the field but because how great you could’ve been.
7. Marco Battaglia (1995 – 2nd Round, 39th pick, TE from Rutgers):
This highly sought after tight end once put up 13 catches for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns in one game at Rutgers. Battaglia never amassed more than one touchdown or more than 160 yards in one of his five seasons with the Bengals, enough said.
6. John Copeland (1993 – 1st Round, 5th pick, DE from Alabama):
Copeland played for one of the best defenses in NCAA football history during his 1992 campaign at Alabama where he was a part of the national title winning Crimson Tide. Copeland was suppose to resurrect a horrendous Bengals defense and was immediately given the starting nod his rookie season. Copeland played seven full seasons for the Bengals and put up one solid year where he sacked the quarterback 9 times and had 55 tackles. During the other six seasons Copeland only put up 15 total sacks. Overall, Copeland was never the guy the Bengals thought they would be getting with a top-5 pick in the draft.
5. Reinard Wilson (1997 – 1st Round, 14th pick, DE from Florida St.):
This All-American at Florida State compiled 13 sacks in his senior campaign. Wilson was one of those guys that could never transition over from the D-Line in college to the linebacker slot in the pros. In his second year as a pro Wilson was given a shot at the starting ROLB slot for the Bengals. In 15 games started he only put up 47 tackles, not the ideal numbers you’re looking for coming from a linebacker. He only played six seasons in the pros.
4. Dan Wilkinson (1994 – 1st Round, 1st pick, DT from Ohio St.):
Dan “BIG Daddy” Wilkinson was the Bengals first #1 overall draft pick in franchise history. The BIG man put up close to 25 sacks in two seasons for the Buckeyes and skipped his senior campaign. Usually, you expect BIG things out of the #1 draft choice, unfortunately he never lived up to the hype. Yes, he averaged 6 sacks a year during his four season with the Bengals but he was slow, never really demanded the double teams we thought teams would apply against him, and he was unhappy here. He’s now played 13 NFL seasons and has not once made the Pro Bowl or even been considered an elite DT. Although, Wilkinson would’ve fit in well with the current Bengals teams as he had legal troubles in 1996 for striking his pregnant wife.
3. Ki-Jana Carter (1995 – 1st Round, 1st pick, RB from Penn St.):
Wait… there’s no way the Bengals could manage to have back-to-back busts with the #1 selection in the NFL draft in back-to-back years, right…… wrong. Boy was I excited about this selection as I’d seen Carter go from being an elite high-school running back at Westerville South just outside Columbus to being a star at Penn State. This Rose Bowl MVP immediately was given the reigns as the Bengals starting running back. We all remember his third pre-season game against Detroit when we saw Carter tear his ACL, after that he was never the same. Carter ending up only compiling 1,144 rushing yards in 10 NFL seasons, but hey he’s now thrown out the shoulder pads and writes for a blog, OPENSports.com.
2. David Klingler (1992 – 1st Round, 6th pick, QB from Houston):
This was a close call as both quarterbacks were equally as bad in the pros. However, Klingler had a solid college career and broke records, including throwing for 11 touchdowns in a single game and overall deserved to be a top pick with the numbers he put up in college. In 24 starts with the Bengals Klingler put up an abysmal 4-20 record and threw for only 16 touchdowns compared to 22 interceptions.
1. Akili Smith (1999 – 1st Round, 3rd pick, QB from Oregon):
Congratulations Akili Smith, you’ve earned the honors of the NKYsportsworld.com biggest draft bust. The Bengals picked Smith after one solid season at Oregon where he put up 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. In four seasons and 17 starts with the Bengals, Smith had a 3-14 record. During this time he only completed 46% of his passes, threw for five touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Smith was out of the NFL by the age of 27. He Akili, you should’ve stuck with baseball.
*Other such as Charles Fisher, David Pollack, and Kenny Irons could’ve made the list; however, these guys played a year or less in the NFL due to injuries.
*Notice they’re five offensive and five defensive busts on my list. QB’s, RB’s, and DE’s accounted for two each. Interesting that I didn’t have one OL or WR on the list.
*Interesting note: A 2008 comparison between the Bengals' scouting department and five AFC teams with a winning percentage above .500 since 1991 shows the winning teams employ five or more scouts whereas the Bengals employ only one.