I wish the Bengals could find a way to draft Keenan Burton in the later rounds.
What baffled me is that Steven Jackson was still sitting there and the Bengals chose Chris Perry. Even at the time, I was screaming for Jackson. How good would the Bengals have been the last few years with Jackson at tailback? I'd have to question anyone who thought Perry was a better pick than Jackson.
Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David
A healthy Perry looks a lot different than an injured one in the grand scheme of things. He was a huge contributor in the playoff year and would have likely fallen into the yards that Kenny Watson got this year due to Rudy's hammy. It is real easy to say they could have had so and so, but he provided value when he got on the field. Sometimes you have to look beyond "first round pick."
I also agree that comparing Perry to Akili is a major stretch, but it doesn't require years of hindsight to realize that the 2004 (and 2007) Bengals weren't nearly good enough defensively to have the luxury of using a first round pick on a third down back. I'm sure they weren't fully convinced that, even after his fine 2003 season, Rudi was the real deal, but that's a call that should have been able to make after a year of evaluation and shouldn't require using a first round pick as running back insurance. Of course, if they absolutely had to take a RB, Stephen Jackson was the number one back on every board that year (except ours, of course).
The thing that confused me at the time was why we selected a HB in the 1st Round when we had no immediate need for said position. If we needed a HB, then Perry certainly could have been an option, although he wasn't even the best HB left on the board at the time, so it just reaffirms the lack of direction that is the Bengals' drafting strategy.