2003: Carson Palmer was the obvious top pick and the Bengals managed not to screw it up. If you were around during that time you know how miraculous that seemed. Say what you will about Palmer now, but he gave the franchise a viability it hadn’t had in over a decade. The Bengals also snagged solid starters in guard Eric Steinbach (second round), fullback Jeremi Johnson (fourth round) and tackle Scott Kuistra (seventh round). Not too shabby.
2004: Cincinnati completely whiffed in taking running back Chris Perry out of Michigan in the first round, but the rest of the draft didn’t turn out too bad. Robert Geathers was taken in the fourth round and is of course still on the roster, at least for the moment. Safety Madieu Williams, linebacker Landon Johnson, and tackle Stacy Andrews all started for at least a few years, though none were what you would ever consider a star. Not terrible for later round depth though.
2005: What a disaster. It’s ironic that in a year that would later see the Bengals post their first winning season and division title since 1990, tragedy would in the end mark the results of the 2005 draft. Top pick David Pollack suffered a career-ending cracked vertebra in the second game of the 2006 season and can now be seen Saturdays on television. Second round choice Odell Thurman is one of the all-time knuckleheads, and probably deserves a “Where are they now?” article. On second thought, maybe we don’t want to know. Third round selection Chris Henry’s antics probably exceeded Thurman’s (and their misdeeds did indeed intertwine on a couple of occasions), before unfortunately being killed while attempting to jump onto his fiancee’s moving vehicle in 2009. It was later found that Henry had developed the now-famous CTE while still an active player.
I mean, come on. Usually it’s kind of fun (or at least cathartic) to mock the Bengals’ missteps, but this year was just brutal. Seventh round pick Jonathan Fanene had the most productive career in a Cincinnati uniform.