This date 1999: Bengals select QB Akili Smith
Oregon QB Akili Smith was the 3rd pick overall by the Bengals in the 1999 draft. The Browns selected Tim Couch No. 1 and the Eagles tabbed Donovan McNabb No. 2.
Smith spent two years at a junior college before transferring to Oregon. In 23 starts with the Ducks he threw 45 touchdowns/15 interceptions in 571 pass attempts. He threw 32 touchdown passes during his 11 starts in his senior year.
As the 1999 draft approached, the Bengals were in need of a QB. They had completed a 3-13 1998 season with three different starting QB's: Neil O'Donnell, Jeff Blake and Paul Justin.
Prior to the draft, New Orleans head coach Mike Ditka offered the Bengals nine draft picks, all of the Saints 1999 draft picks (12th pick overall), their 1st-round picks in 2000 and 2001, and a 2nd-rounder in 2002, all to move up and select Texas RB Ricky Williams.
Mike Brown declined the offer.
The Washington Redskins jumped on the Saints offer and they received the Saints’ first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh-round pick in the 1999 draft, as well as the Saints’ first and third-round pick in the 2000 draft.
The Bengals selected Smith with the No. 3 pick:
Enquirer: “There were a whole bunch of ‘em (QB's) that came out that year – and by far Akili was at the bottom of our list,” said then-head coach Bruce Coslet. “I can still remember the coach, I want to say his name was Mike (Bellotti), his coach in college, I can still remember Kenny Anderson and I sitting in his office and we flat asked him, ‘Why did Akili only play one year?’ And (Bellotti) said the reason is that I couldn’t trust him. Well, that was a big red flag for me.
“Then we drafted him anyway.”
The Smith era began with a 27-day holdout in a contract dispute. He eventually signed a then-club record 7-year/$56M deal that included a $10.8 signing bonus.
He started four games in his rookie season (2 TD/6 INT 52.2%), beginning the season as a back up to Jeff Blake.
He went 2-9 in 11 starts in his second season, completing just 44.2 percent of his 267 pass attempts.
Smith was benched in favor of Scott Mitchell by interim coach Dick LeBeau after Week 13 in 2000, and a 48-28 loss to Pittsburgh, that signaled the end of Smith’s time.
Jon Kitna arrived in 2001. Smith made just one start in 2001 and one start in 2002. Smith was released on May 31, 2003.
Smith went 3-14 in 17 starts in his career with the Bengals. He completed just 46.6 percent of his passes, throwing 5 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a QB rating of 52.8.
He spent time in training camp with the Green Bay Packers and a season with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League before calling it a career in 2007.
Career stats HERE.
October 10, 1999/
Bengals 18 Browns 17
From Geoff Hobson, Cincinnati Enquirer
CLEVELAND — In the last two minutes of his first NFL start Sunday, resourceful rookie quarterback Akili Smith doused the fires of the Bengals' winless season and fanned the flames of an old rivalry.
Smith punctuated his first showdown with Browns rookie quarterback Tim Couch by lofting a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Carl Pickens with five seconds left to cap a chest-thumping, heart-stopping 80-yard drive away from the Dawg Pound and into an 18-17 victory.
Smith then raced to the Browns sideline and thumped his chest at the team that chose Kentucky's Couch No.1 in last spring's NFL draft instead of Smith.