4 worst Bengals draft picks of the Duke Tobin era

2018 NFL Draft
2018 NFL Draft / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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Duke Tobin was promoted to Director of Player Personnel for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002. Before his arrival, the organization was often panned as one of, if not the worst franchise, in North American sports. Part of that was due to the team’s less-than-stellar draft choices. 

Since then, with help from first Marvin Lewis and now Zac Taylor, the Bengals have turned things around and are now a Super Bowl contender. 

However, there have been proverbial bumps in the road in the form of questionable draft picks. For the new Bengals fans, the team has not always lucked out on guys like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and A.J. Green. 

The Bengals had to overcome so much bad luck on and off the field that the fanbase was convinced the team was cursed. Chris Perry, David Pollack, Odell Thurman, Chris Henry, Kenny Irons, and Tyler Eifert were all guys whose careers never reached their full potential because of injuries or tragedies off the field. Other decisions were just decidedly bad.

Now while the Bengals are near the mountaintop of the NFL and Tobin has taken more of a public, front-facing role with the team, we can look back at four of the worst Bengals draft picks of the Duke Tobin era. 

4. Cedric Ogbuehi

Calling Cedric Ogbuehi a poor choice for the Bengals is not hindsight. From memory, Mel Kiper Jr. used words such as “weak” and “bad back” to describe what he thought was beyond a subpar pick by Cincinnati in the first round of the 2015 draft. 

Then there was one of the strangest press conferences in recent Bengals lore. To say that offensive line coach Paul Alexander’s over-praising of the pick at his first-round press conference was far beyond enthusiastic would be putting it mildly. It was the personification of William Shakespeare’s “doth protest too much, methinks.”

What Alexander said and the scouting reports never lined up with the tape Ogbuehi put on display at Texas A&M. He was the Aggies' best offensive lineman at right guard his sophomore season. In his junior year, they moved him to tackle, where he had an average season at best. In his final year at Texas A&M, Ogbuehi moved to left tackle, where he did not have a good season. Based on that season alone, he should not have been a first, second, or third-rounder. 

Counting on Ogbuehi to play tackle was a failure from the scouts and coaching staff. His insistence on playing tackle did not help. After performing poorly at right tackle, the Bengals decided to play him at left tackle. He argued that he felt that was his most natural position. If you have paid attention, you can guess how well that went. 

Adding insult to injury is that the Bengals forwent trying to better the team for the 2015 season, opting to draft the replacements of Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith in the first and second rounds. We would be remised if we did not mention left tackle turn tight end Jake Fisher was selected in the second round. Cincinnati's offensive line has not been the same since. 

Furthermore, Coach Lewis’ tenure was never able to bounce back after that. 

Cincinnati had the opportunity to select guys that could have immediately helped get the team over their playoff drought. But they thought, as an organization, that it would be best to concentrate on the future rather than winning games in the now. This is a strategy that has not completely gone away. We saw it unfold with the recent pick of Dax Hill to replace Jessie Bates III. Expect that choice to turn out better. 

Not playing Ogbuehi at guard during his tenure in Cincinnati was a mistake. Things would have certainly worked out better for him. 

A lot of what makes the Ogbuehi selection so bad is the context around it. Drafting for the future instead of the now, replacing a legend who would go on to play five more years and win a Super Bowl, and a weird press conference were not the offensive lineman’s fault. 

Furthermore, fairly or unfairly, Ogbuehi helped continue the perception of Cincinnati chronically drafting players in the first round who end up on an injured list.

It is not all bad for the former first-round pick. He is still playing and is now with the Miami Dolphins. Even though he has bounced around, he should be extremely proud that he has made it this long in the NFL.

Nevertheless, his tenure in Cincinnati was disastrous. And unfortunately, it should not have been difficult for Tobin, the scouts, and the coaching staff to predict.