The many epic busts sprinkled through Bengals history were one of the main reasons fans had to endure more than 20 seasons of losing and irrelevancy. The draft continued to flummox the Bengals’ front office all the way into the new century, infuriating a whole new generation of fans. There were a few really good picks during the lean years but they were few and far between.
Then, things slowly began to change. The Bengals started to add some talented guys with their early picks and then throughout the entire draft. So, what happened?
As head coach Marvin Lewis began to gain the trust of owner Mike Brown, he also gained more input into draft picks. The 2006 draft could be looked at as the beginning of the successful draft years. After selecting Johnathan Joseph in the first round, they also netted Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko in the third and fourth rounds.
The Bengals, like most teams, continued to add solid players with their first round picks, but it’s the picks after that that are important for building a winner, like Michael Johnson and Pat Sims, both third-round picks.
In 2010, the Bengals had what might be their best draft. They took Jermaine Gresham in the first round, then added Carlos Dunlap in the second. The home run came in the fourth round, when they selected Geno Atkins, who has gone on to become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
All-world wide receiver AJ Green and quarterback Andy Dalton came in 2011, followed by guard Kevin Zeitler, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in 2012. As these picks have developed into good players, the team as a whole has developed into a consistent winner.
The 2013 draft is just a scant few months away and hopefully the recent success continues for the Bengals. As Lewis gains more sway on draft picks, it seems that the odds on making a good choice have gone up. After two consecutive trips to the playoffs, another solid draft, coupled with the continued development of the current players, might make the Bengals legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
For this reason, Bengals fans now wait anxiously for the draft to arrive and are finally able to be excited about it.