Since 1969, 7 running backs have been drafted #1 overall. As of this moment, Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley has the chance to be the 8th. Only time will tell if that does happen, but the stigma around RBs and drafting them high (much less #1) isn’t a conversation that just started. Let’s hop back in our time machine…
During his junior season, Ki-Jana Carter ran for over 1,500 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns and finished second in Heisman voting.
His season came to an end with a memorable performance in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. Carter ran for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns including this 83 yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
In the spring of 1995, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Carter #1 overall after a trade with the Carolina Panthers which they traded the No. 5 and No. 36 selections to Carolina to acquire the No. 1 overall pick and signed him to 7 year, $19.2m contract which included a then rookie record $7.125m signing bonus.
The Bengals were in the midst of drafting in the top 6 for 4 straight seasons and there was hope that Carter would be the player to turn it around. At 5’10 226lbs, Carter could MOVE (as evidence by the video above).
“From the very first day we were just shaking our head all the stuff this kid could do on the field,” former Bengals offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet said. “I mean, just, we’d look at each other and say ‘Whoa, what do we have here?’ ”
Unfortunately for the Bengals, the rest of the world never got a chance to see what Bengals coaches and players saw. Carter tore his ACL in his first pre-season game and would never come close to returning to form. Over the next two years (96-97 seasons), Carter would rush for 728 yards and 15 touchdowns Unfortunately, once again, Carter would deal with a broken wrist and a dislocated knee cap that would end his season in back to back years.
He would return to the field in 2001 with the Redskins and then he finished his career with the New Orleans Saints from 2003-2004.
The former first overall selection played in 59 career games (with 14 starts) and rushed for 1,144 yards and 20 touchdowns.
For the Bengals, 1995-1997 will always be a tremendous what if. Dave Shula was fired 7 games games into the 1996 season and Bruce Coslet took over. The Bengals finished the 1996 and 1997 season with top 5 and top 10 (respectively) scoring offenses. QB Jeff Blake and WR Carl Pickens each made the Pro Bowl and (along with a little help from Boomer Esiason oddly enough) the Bengals managed achieved a 22-26 record (and if you understood how bad the 90s were for the Bengals…achieved is the right word).