The Bengals entered the 1995 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, the fourth straight year in which they had earned a top 10 selection.
However, the Bengals were by no means married to picking fifth, as Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com detailed in a story recently published on the club’s website.
For starters, Bengals owner Mike Brown had a potential trade worked out with Philadelphia, one that would land Cincinnati the No. 12 pick and tackle Bernard Williams, Hobson said.
In the end, though, the Bengals moved in the other direction, trading the No. 5 and No. 36 selections to Carolina to acquire the No. 1 overall pick. The Bengals’ target: Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter.
However, Carter’s NFL career got off to a nightmarish start, as he tore his left ACL in his preseason game. He returned the next season but gained just 2.9 yards per carry on 91 attempts. Overall, he rushed for just 1,144 yards and eight TDs in eight NFL seasons.
Another interesting nugget in Hobson’s feature: the Bengals allegedly had designs on taking defensive end Kevin Carter at No. 5 and running back Curtis Martin at No. 36. Martin, of course, is a Hall of Famer, while Carter had 104.5 sacks in 14 NFL seasons.
“That’s how we had it mapped out and it changed when we moved up,” Brown said, according to Bengals.com. “I haven’t been too keen on getting Mr. Wonderful. We lost two guys that turned out to be better players than the one we got. But he got hurt. We’ll never know how good he could have been.”
Indeed, as Hobson noted in his feature, the Bengals have not traded up in Round One since 1995.
There was one final eye-catching tidbit in Hobson’s feature. According to Hobson, then-Panthers G.M. Bill Polian — who had designs on taking Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins at No. 5 — wanted the Bengals to keep word of the trade quiet until absolutely necessary. Polian’s rationale, according to the Bengals.com story? The Panthers didn’t want the Oilers to get wind of news of the trade down, lest they take Collins third overall.
Ultimately, the Oilers took the late Steve McNair third, with the Panthers getting Collins at No. 5.