Worst Cincinnati Bengals draft picks in franchise history

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Cincinnati Bengals
Ki-Jana Carter, Cincinnati Bengals -Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport /

David Klinger, QB (Houston)

Drafted 6th overall in1992

Usually, it’s a little hyperbolic when someone says this person was prolific at something. Well, it’s pretty accurate for David Klinger in college while at Houston University. During his 1990 season at Houston, Klinger threw for 5,140 yards and 54 touchdowns.

This includes a game against Eastern Washington when Klinger threw for 11 touchdowns and 572 yards in an 84 – 21 route against the Panthers. In 1990 Klinger set a record that still holds today.  with the most passing yards per game for a season at 467.3 yards per game.

Boomer Esiason’s time in the striped jersey was coming to an end and the organization knew they needed to replace him. Who better than a player who threw for over 9,000 yards in two seasons in college? Cincinnati selected David Klinger sixth overall in the 1992 draft.

He only played three seasons in the black and orange. Plagued by the injury bug, the Houston product never started a full season in Cincy. He only threw for 3,800+ yards in three seasons as a Bengal. He was truly one of the biggest disappointments in Cincinnati history.

Ki-Jana Carter, RB (Penn State)

Drafted 1st overall in1995 

A superstar at Penn State, Ki-Jana Carter was the no-brainer pick for the Bengals to be their next star running back. He was the projected and obvious pick with the number one overall pick and was looked at as the kind of player you’d only pass on if you had Barry Sanders.

The Bengals did not have the first overall pick, which was held by the new expansion team the Carolina Panthers. Cincy knew that Carter would ignite the franchise back into relevance. Instead, the franchise kept floating in the ether.

In a preseason game, Carter tore his ACL. Now that injury isn’t a career killer that to medical advances but back then it was essentially a career-ender, which is what happened to Carter. He was never the same after his injury and after just four years was out of Cincy.

Carter bounced around to three other teams in a four-year span before leaving the NFL for good. It’s a shame medicine wasn’t where it was at like today. So many players might not have turned into draft busts and Ki-Jana Carter is one that we’ll always wonder about.