Here’s another one for the Greg Cook What If file for you.
With the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizing the steel-belted 4.0-yards consistency of running back Curtis Martin on Saturday, rewind to a week before the 1995 NFL Draft.
Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter is clearly the highest-rated running back in the draft and the Bengals, picking No. 5, are desperate. They haven’t had a 100-yard rushing game in the past two seasons and they need a gamebreaker to go with wide receivers Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott not knowing if long-ball artist Jeff Blake is the long-term answer at quarterback.
They know Carter is going to be gone by the time they pick. But they like another Carter that is going to be sitting there. Kevin Carter, the Florida defensive end-tackle. Plus, they think they can get a good running back in the second round with the 36th pick in the tradition of Ickey Woods and Harold Green.
A kid out of Pittsburgh named Curtis Martin.
If they come out of it with the other Carter and Martin, they think that sounds good.
The rest is…
For the only time the Bengals traded up to get Ki-Jana Carter at No. 1 for those No. 5 and No. 36 picks and it turned out they could have gotten Martin at No. 69 in the third round because the Patriots didn’t pick him until No. 74.
Who knows what happens if Carter doesn’t blow out his knee on the third snap of his NFL career? Who knows what kind of career Martin would have had if he had started with Blake as his quarterback and not Drew Bledsoe in New England?
The Bengals were certainly looking at the right guys if they didn’t pull the trade. Martin made the Hall rushing for more than 14,000 yards while averaging 1,281 yards in his 11 seasons. Kevin Carter had 104.5 career sacks and went to two Pro Bowls.
Every draft, every situation, every year is different. But if you’re looking for two reasons not to trade up, there are two of them.
By the way, if Martin is in, should the back the Bengals ended up getting two years later in the second round, Corey Dillon get in the Hall, too?
Martin played one more season and is fourth on the all-time rushing list while racking up 90 touchdowns. Dillon is only 17th on the list, but he scored 83 TDs himself on inferior teams, has a better yards per carry (4.3), and got the Super Bowl ring Martin didn’t get with the Patriots.
You can debate it, but Dillon is clearly borderline. He needed 12,000 yards to be a lock. Plus, Dillon can’t get in before Jerome Bettis and he’s still waiting.
Tags: Corey Dillon, Curtis Martin, Kevin Carter, Ki-Jana Carter
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