Time Running Out for Andre Smith, Bengals' Former First Round Pick

Matt GrayContributor IAugust 17, 2010

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1:  First round draft pick Andre Smith #71 of the Cincinnati Bengals waits his turn for a drill during rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
Mark Lyons/Getty Images

How could it all go so horribly wrong?

Andre Smith's fall from grace has by no means gone unnoticed. The images of Smith running the 40 shirtless have been lampooned by what seems like every sports site on the web.

It has left the Bengals organisation disgruntled, with Marvin Lewis making it clear that Smith is simply running out of time, with patience dwindling.

Andre Smith came loaded with promise. During high school recruiters called Smith "one of the most dominant offensive line prospects in the last 10 years" (Rivals.com). He went on to become only the fourth O-line freshman to ever start for the Alabama Crimson Tide, playing in all 13 games and recording 62 pancake blocks and even a touchdown. This resulted in Freshman All-American honours.

Smith continued to rack up awards in college, culminating in winning the Outland Trophy in 2009 as well as sharing the Jacobs Blocking Trophy and receiving an All-Southeastern conference selection.

What came next was what, in hindsight, I see as the first warning sign. Alabama had reached the 2009 Sugar Bowl and were due to play the Utah Utes. Smith was banned from playing in this game due to dealings with an agent. What strikes me is that Smith was more engrossed in himself and his own prospects and dealings than he was in the success of the team. 

It went from bad to worse for Smith, as he turned up to the NFL Combine weighing 332 pounds (you've seen the pictures!), running the 40 in 5.28 seconds and only managing 19 bench repetitions of 225 pounds. Smith then made headlines by leaving the Combine and returning to Alabama without informing his group leader and skipping a workout, ruffling a few feathers in the process and doing nothing to improve his image.

Smith, a former prospect for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, eventually went to the Cincinnati Bengals at pick No. 6 in the first round. To little surprise, Andre Smith held out, but nobody anticipated that it would be for as long as he did considering his Combine and pro day performances.

After missing all of training camp and the preseason, Smith signed a four-year, $21 million contract. Smith made little to no impact in his rookie season, playing in six games after suffering a sidelining foot injury. He failed to recover well from the injury, giving another source of criticism to detractors.

I find it strange that Bengals fans can be more upset about T.O. joining the team than they are that this waste of space is still around and that he used up a first round pick. Andre Smith has shown himself to be immature and having little passion for the game.

Am I wrong in feeling that Smith should have been desperate to prove the Bengals that he is better than his Combine performance and that all of the negative comments are wrong? He obviously doesn't mind the world's press decreeing that he is a bust, as long as he receives his paycheck. 

Further solidifying Andre Smith's image as a locker room nuisance, his performance in this year's training camp has proved incredibly frustrating. Cincinnati's first round pick is entering his sophomore year with the Bengals, and he is not practicing with the team because he is not physically capable. Coach Marvin Lewis has gone as far as to suggest that he may be placed on the physically unable to play list come the season's start.

Is it just me, or should a first round pick not have to be monitored hourly? Should a first round pick with a contract like his not have to be threatened with a $32,000 fine for being overweight? It just suggests that Smith has no drive to play the game, that maybe his passion got lost along the way.

If Andre Smith really wants to play football, I expect big things from him this year; if he produces nothing, then I think it may be time to let him fall by the wayside. It's hard for a team to admit that its first round pick is a bust, so I understand the apprehension that Cincinnati will have, but I think Smith may not be the player they hoped he would be.

Andre Smith is the epitome of what is wrong with the NFL: an overpaid diva of an athlete with more money than sense. I wouldn't be surprised if Smith was happy to sit out with an injury last season and watch the money roll in. Smith could learn a thing or two from players like Nate Livings and Kyle Cook, who have already made the Bengals' O-line strong.

Maybe I'm wrong and Smith must be given more time. If this is the case, then surely Smith was not worth a first round pick. Let me know what you think, as my patience and I'm sure the Cincinnati board's patience is running out.

Should Andre Smith be cut, making Cincinnati admit that they drafted a bust, or should they continue to waste more time and money on him?