TDBH: Warrick selection ushers in new era

Posted Apr 14, 2018

This Day in Bengals History - April 15, 2000

The new is pushing out the old today with Paul Brown Stadium on the verge of opening in August. The Bengals’ first draft of the 21st century is the last one held at Spinney Field on the first day of their web site. The country’s most exciting player, Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick, graces as the draft’s fourth pick all but guarantees the departure of Carl Pickens, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver. When the Bengals use the third round to select Warrick’s college running mate, Florida State wide receiver Ron Dugans, Pickens’ exit is now a mere formality. Pickens triggerman Jeff Blake is already in New Orleans and now the Bengals are quarterbacked by untried sophomore Akili Smith and backboned by perennial 1,000-yard rusher Corey Dillon in a new era of offense.  Ask the Bengals and this really is Smith’s draft.  “Again, I come back to ‘ol number 11 and how Akili is going to play,” says head coach Bruce Coslet. “Well, we’re trying to give him some weapons to play with.”

Smith is so fired up about the Warrick pick that he calls Dillon in Seattle and urges him to get his contract settled. Smith and Warrick have one thing in common. With the overall No. 1 pick in the last two drafts, the Browns appear ready to take Smith and Warrick but they opt for Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch over Smith last year and today take Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown over Warrick.   Warrick puts on his No. 80 and wanders out to the Spinney turf to tell reporters, “We play Cleveland. I’m going to give ‘em something,” Warrick says of the Sept. 10 PBS opener. “And it’s at home. I’ll give ‘em something. We’re going to be 1-0.”

But the Bengals get beat by Couch and the Browns, 24-7, in what turns out to be a harbinger of the struggles of the new era. Scott suffers a season-ending broken leg in training camp, making Warrick and Dugans the first rookie receivers from the same college to start for the same team on Opening Day. But the Bengals can’t overcome the crushing lack of inexperience at both QB and receiver. Smith loses the job for good late in the 4-12 season. Dugans is out of the league after three seasons and 89 catches. And the sad irony is that after struggling with four different QBs in his first four seasons, Warrick has a break-out year in 2003 with 79 catches and supplies the win that really does usher in the new era. Except it is the Marvin Lewis Era, not Akili-PDub. Channeling the Seminoles glory days, Warrick fuels the upset of the 9-0 Chiefs with two long TDs in the fourth quarter on a punt return and bomb from Jon Kitna. But he’s out of the league two years later when he never bounces back from a knee scope.

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