9) Sean Brewer, TE, 2001 3rd Round
Why put a third-rounder on this list? That’s easy, how many teams would ever draft a tight end that smoked a pack of cigarettes a day? Brewer was a nondescript tight end from San Jose State who started all of 2 games for the Bengals. Most scouting experts had Brewer ranked somewhere between 15-20 in his class, but that did not deter Mike Brown from picking him in the third round. The Bengals knew very little about Brewer as they had to ask an NFL media writer what he knew about the pick. The release they gave about him was that he liked to act like a tough guy, was confrontational with coaches, and smoked a pack a day. How can Brewer not make this list?
8) David Verser, WR, 1981 1st Round
Luckily the Bengals drafted another wide receiver in round 2, which was one of their best picks of all-time in Cris Collinsworth. Verser was a good return man who made some plays in his career and if he would have been a fifth-round pick it would have been a great choice, but he wasn’t, he was a first-round pick. Chicago Bears tackle Keith Van Horne was taken with the very next pick. Van Horne played 13 seasons
7) Jack Thompson, QB, 1979, 1st Round
I do not blame the Throwin’ Samoan for this one! This falls on the Bengals. Ken Anderson was the starter and being around 30 years old meant a quarterback was not needed. Thompson was a great college quarterback and you have to wonder what happens if he goes somewhere else. I really think Thompson in a different situation would have had a good career.
6) Billy Brooks, WR, 1976 1st round
Brooks was big, fast, athletic and had been a star at Oklahoma. That is the first problem. The Bengals took a receiver from a team that ran the wishbone! Brooks had great straight-line speed but the Bengals already had Isaac Curtis for that. Brooks was not a strong route runner and his career was over soon after it started. LB Larry Gordon was taken six picks later by the Miami Dolphins. Gordon was a fantastic linebacker for the Dolphins from 1976-1982
5) David Pollack, LB, 2005 1st Round
Yes, an injury ruined Pollack’s chances at not being a bust in 2006, but if you saw him play in 2005 he was headed towards being a bust even without the career-ending injury. Roddy White, Heath Miller, Mike Patterson, and Logan Mankins were all taken after Pollack.
4) Ki-Jana Carter, RB, 1995 1st Round
This was not the fault of Carter or the Bengals, but the Bengals did trade up to the number one spot to take him, and 90 percent of the teams in the NFL would have grabbed him. The problem was in a preseason game against the Lions, on his third play, he tore his knee. While he did play a decent amount of years the explosiveness was gone. To make matters even worse, Tony Boselli, Kerry Collins, Steve McNair, and Joey Galloway were all taken soon after Carter.
3) Mike Cobb, WR, 1977 1st Round
Why so high? He was a first-round pick that never caught a pass as a Bengal, that’s why! WR Stanley Morgan was taken just two picks later by the Patriots. Morgan would go to four Pro Bowls and amass more than 10,000 yards receiving. The Cobb pick was horrendous and it tells you how bad the Bengals have drafted at times to see a guy who did nothing have a couple of guys ranked ahead of him.
2) David Klingler, QB, 1992 1st Round
Boomer Esiason was in his prime and the Bengal’s biggest need was not a quarterback. Hell, by 1992 the QB position may have been the least essential. Klingler came from the run and shoot offense and Mike brown for some reason fell in love with him. Five-time Pro Bowl DB Troy Vincent was taken with the pick immediately following Klingler. This choice set the franchise back 5 years.
1) Akili Smith, QB, 1999 1st round
This is the undisputed number one pick. Smith had played one great season at Oregon and the Bengals were so enamored with his ability that they turned down the Saints offer to trade ALL of their draft picks for the Bengals’ position because they wanted to take Ricky Williams. The Bengals decided that would be a bad trade for them.
To make matters even worse, the next four picks in the draft were Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey. In Smith’s defense, the way the Bengals organization was being run at the time John Elway would have failed as a Bengal.