The Cincinnati Bengals will pick ninth in the 2017 NFL draft. It will be the team’s first top-10 selection since 2011, giving a tad bit more excitement for the fans when the draft kicks off in Philadelphia at the end of the month.
But how have the Bengals stacked up with their last 10 first-round picks? Six playoff appearances in the last eight seasons have been fueled by solid drafting, right?
Here’s how Mike Brown‘s last 10 first-rounders have stacked up:
10.) CB, William Jackson III (2016 – 24th overall)
It’s difficult to put Jackson at the bottom of the totem poll because he was drafted last season. However, he’s ineligible to move up any higher because he only has a few preseason games under his belt. The corner was placed on injured reserve one week before the 2016 regular-season opener. He will look to bounce back in 2017 but will have to fight through a crowded Cincinnati secondary.
9.) OT, Cedric Ogbuehi (2015 – 21st overall)
Not far behind Jackson is Ogbuehi, who struggled last season in pass protection. The majority of his rookie season was spent on the sidelines recovering from a torn ACL. Last year he was the starting right tackle on opening day but was promptly benched after nine starts. He will shift to left tackle in 2017 – where he played at Texas A&M- to replace Andrew Whitworth as the protector of Andy Dalton‘s blind side.
8.) CB, Darqueze Dennard (2014 – 24th overall)
Dennard, the fifth first-round corner of the Marvin Lewis era, has been quiet in his first three professional seasons. Poor play and injuries have limited his time on the field, causing him to make just four starts. Dennard has just one forced fumble and an interception in his career thus far. The Bengals remain to wait and see if Dennard will measure up to his first-round expectations. Dennard has one more year left in his rookie deal before Cincinnati can decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option for 2018.
7.) LB, Keith Rivers (2008 – 9th overall)
Rivers final line with the Bengals isn’t overwhelming. In three years he made 33 starts and tallied 120 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. But Rivers’ career is filed under the ‘what-ifs?’ section. In his first game as a rookie, he made nine tackles in the 2008 regular-season opener in Baltimore. His rookie campaign came to an end in mid-October, though, when Hines Ward‘s peel-back block left him with a broken jaw. Rivers spent two seasons with the Giants and one in Buffalo before calling it quits after the 2014 season.
6.) TE, Jermaine Gresham (2010- 21st overall)
Gresham never lived up to the hype he received during his collegiate days in Norman, Oklahoma. He caught 24 touchdowns in five seasons with the Bengals, but 11 fumbles in the span overshadowed the scoring.
His best days in stripes came as a security blanket during Dalton’s younger days. Gresham totaled 333 targets over four seasons with Dalton, but his replacement, a fellow first-round tight end who will be listed later, was drafted in 2013 and Gresham left for Arizona after the 2014 season. In two years with the Cardinals, Gresham has 55 catches and three touchdowns.
5.) OT, Andre Smith (2009 – 6th overall)
Smith returned to the Bengals on a one-year deal last month, desperately helping out an offense that lost two starters from 2016. When healthy, Smith was productive as Cincinnati’s starting right tackle. He played back-to-back full seasons in 2012 and 2013, respectively, but he’s been inactive for seven-plus games in four of his eight NFL seasons. An arm injury last year with the Vikings caused him to miss the final 12 games. He will look to bring some form of veteran stability to an offensive line that on paper looks like the team’s biggest weakness.
4.) CB, Dre Kirkpatrick (2012 – 17th overall)
Kirkpatrick’s play has finally come around. Enough to earn him a five-year mega-deal this offseason as one of the few returnees. The missed tackles and penalties have racked up, but Kirkpatrick turned in his best year in 2016, intercepting three passes as the Bengals’ best corner.
He is the no. 1 defensive back in Cincinnati and will be in the foreseeable future. Hopefully, the young guns on the depth chart can rise up the ranks like Kirkpatrick did a half-decade ago.
3.) TE, Tyler Eifert (2013 – 21st overall)
Eifert, a two-time Pro-Bowler, has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL when healthy. In 2015, he caught 13 touchdowns in 13 games, helping lead the Bengals to an AFC North title. Eifert has yet to churn out a full season, though. In 2014 he missed all but eight offensive snaps with an elbow injury. Concussions, a back issue, and a foot injury caused him to miss 11 games in the last two years combined. If he can stay on the field, the Bengals’ offense can get over a hump that caused them to lose six one-possession games in 2016.
2.) OG, Kevin Zeitler (2012 – 27th overall)
Zeitler was stable at right guard for the Bengals over the last five seasons. He didn’t miss a game in the last two years, and despite never making a Pro Bowl, he inked a deal with the Cleveland Browns in March that made him the highest-paid guard in the league. He was ranked the 7th-best guard by Pro Football Focus in 2016.
1.) WR, A.J. Green (2011 – 4th overall)
No surprise here. Green has been one of the best receivers in the league since being drafted in 2011. Green tallied five straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his career, joining Randy Moss as the only receivers in league history to do so. A partial hamstring tear last November caused him to fall 36 yards shy of another four-digit campaign, but he still managed to earn a Pro-Bowl bid for the sixth straight year.