Remembering the Bengals’ trade for Ki-Jana Carter


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 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 “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 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.

38 responses to “Remembering the Bengals’ trade for Ki-Jana Carter

  1. Wow. It’s been that long already? The thing is, no one and I mean NO ONE would draft a RB #1 today… much less trade up to do it. Heck, this year there might not even be a RB taken in all of Round 1. Times do change.

  2. I don’t follow The Bengals, however, I remember when Carter played at PSU. At that time he was one good football player. I understand that there were very great players picked after Carter, however, in my opinion, it isn’t logical to make even subtle comparisons of severely injured draft picks with draft selections who had essentially healthy NFL career histories. Injuries change the entire discussion when making player comparisons.

  3. Crazy. I remember people spoke of Ki-Jana Carter as a running back with the speed and agility of a jungle cat. As a kid, I bought into the hype.

    I was 10. What was Cincinnati’s excuse?

  4. Yea, I remember Curt Warner. Now days,, even though you spell the names differently, he’s the “other” Curt Warner, lol. However, I was speaking more of the Blair Thomas, Carter, Curtis Enis run there of futility in the 90’s of top draft picks.

  5. Carter was unbelievable in college. Too bad we didn’t get to see a Penn State – Nebraska title game.

  6. I had a Curt Warner jersey as a kid in the 80s …

    PLEASE there have been thousands of longtime seahawks fans; this is getting old — every team has bandwagon fans and lifelong fans, including whoever you root for … if they’re currently good right now. That’s how it works. Go Hawks! We’re Champs!

  7. Just looked up his stats. He averaged 7.8 yards/carry during his senior season. That was on 198 carries. I can see how a team might overpay for him especially the way offenses were back then.

  8. Two Things To Remember:

    1) Catastrophic knee injuries in rookie pre-season game doesn’t equal bust

    2) mike brown is a cheap idiot

  9. That all being said, Bengals taking Carter #1 was a lot more justifiable than the Bears taking Enis at 5. Anyone with eyes could see that dude was too slow to ever cut it against the big boys.

  10. After a draft everyone always claims they were totally going to pick the players that turned out to be amazing, only they didn’t. I remember after the 2012 season there was a story the Eagles totally wanted to draft Russell Wilson, but changed their minds last minute. What a crock. No reason to believe any of them.

  11. it’s always easy to look back and critique. 78 NFL drafts,only 16 number one picks have won a championship or Super bowl. Many of those not with the team that drafted them.

  12. There were only 13 Pro Bowlers and two HOFers picked after Ki-Jana in the first round of the 1995 draft…

  13. they said Ki-Jana was going to be the next Barry Sanders. I was still on the highway to a draft party and was shocked that “we” traded up.

  14. In retrospect injuries do make decisions like this a wash. Nobody can predict a rookie destroying his knee in a preseason game.

    As for McNair vs Collins, they both made a Super Bowl and lost, so its a wash.

  15. They still find ways to BUNGLE their personnel, so not much has changed. They will continue to believe Dalton is the QB. to take them to a championship, and will continue to get bounced in first round of playoffs, if they are lucky enough to make it even. Will be nice to see a more deserving fan base such as the browns, to appreciate their team starting to dominate the AFC north in 2014.

  16. My o my how the league has changed since then 15 to 20 yrs ago teams were always drafting rb’s with the number 1 pick or at least drafting rb’s a lot more in the first 10 picks of the 1st round now they are drafting them in the 2nd and later rounds running backs dont usually last but 5 years in the league now and they arent overpaid anymore like they were

  17. Carter is a punch line but it’s unfortunate. He wasn’t a Jamarcus Russell type player. Redskins fans remember he came back from all of those injuries and balled out under Schottenheimer for a year. He had the desire but his body couldn’t hold up.

  18. They should have traded down with the Eagles–Bernard Williams was out of the league by 96 for drugs. Then maybe the Eagles wouldn’t have taken Mike Mamula.

  19. The Bengals came into the league in in 1968. The draft has not been their strong suit.

    AFC North Hall of Famers drafted since 1968:

    Bengals – 1
    Ravens/old Browns – 2 (Lewis & Reed are future locks)
    Steelers – 11 (Polamalu and Bettis are future locks)

  20. Why do people think the browns are such a great and deserving fan base ?

    That’s such nonsense. If Cleveland had a good fan base they wouldn’t keep losing nfl teams.

    Has there been another nfl city that has lost more teams than Cleveland?

  21. And the trade was made in part because Kevin Carter’s work ethic was in question with some. And they felt they needed a game breaker to complete the offense.

  22. A Penn St.-Nebraska title game that year would have been epic (although I think the Huskers would win going away). Maybe we could round up all those guys and have them play an exhibition on the 20th anniversary. Lawrence Phillips would be slowed down by his ankle monitoring bracelet, and Penn State’s coaching probably wouldn’t be very good.

  23. Dang. I wish the Bengals had leaked the deal. Then the Panthers could have ended up with McNair. We would have made it to the Super Bowl well before 2003. What might have been…

  24. Kerry Collins last played in the 2011 season. If the 95 bengals would have just taken Collins that year, they could have avoided the dalton bust pick of 2011.

  25. I hope Hobson is doing a special on all of the Bengals busts. Akili Smith? David Klingler? There’s basically a huge portion of my childhood that I’ve blocked out when it comes to the Bengals. I once cried when the Bengals beat the Rams because I had tickets to the game the following week and I knew there was no chance that the team would win back-to-back games.

  26. LOL@ all of the Dalton haters on this post. Everyone of them are fans of another team that doesn’t have a hope in hell of ever beating him! LOL

  27. Proving once again that the draft is 20% prep and 80% crap shoot. You could use the same sort of hindsight to crack-wise on any NFL draft.

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