The Bengals haven’t really missed in the first round over the last decade or so, there are a few players that probably aren’t worthy of where they were selected, but still not busts. John Ross was so disappointing during his rookie season I wanted to pick him, but I figured one year was a bit premature.
After going back and forth I settled on Keith Rivers, the MLB from USC that Cincinnati took with the 9th pick in the 2008 draft. Coming out of college Rivers was considered a top defensive player, his career started off solid notching double digit tackles in a few games. But during week 7 Hines Ward literally shattered his jaw and ended his season. This hit was actually what changed the rules of “crack blocking.” (Ironically enough a Steelers receiver repeated history this season when JuJu Smith-Schuster basically murdered Vontaze Burfict.)
He played a few more seasons in Cincinnati and struggled to stay healthy before being traded to the Giants for a 5th round pick in 2012. Not much of a return investment, when you take a player in the top 10 you expect them to become a corner stone for your franchise. Not a player you want to move so badly that you take pennies on the dollar.
Jerod Mayo went one pick after Rivers, they played the same position but Mayo played at a much higher level. The Bengals also missed out on Ryan Clady, Brandon Albert, Aqib Talib, Duane Brown, Chris Johnson, Jordy Nelson, DeSean Jackson, Matt Forte, Calais Campbell, and Ray Rice. Rice would have fit in nicely with the whole “off-field issues all-star” culture that Cincinnati specializes in. Talk about missing a chance for a key piece. Pairing him with Pac-Man and Burfict would have been great. Think of the role model he could have been for rookie Joe Mixon!
All jokes aside Rivers is one of those heartbreaking cases where his true talent was never reached due to not being able to stay healthy. I really hate calling him a bust.