The Bengals’ best and worst Top-10 draft picks
The Cincinnati Bengals will pick in the top 10 of the NFL Draft for the first time since 2011. Over the club’s 49-year history, the team has made twenty-five top-10 picks.
Here are the five best and worst of those selections.
Top 5 Best
Anthony Munoz (USC): 1980 — 1st rd, 3rd overall
The only Bengals’ Hall-of-Famer obviously belongs at the top of this list. Munoz spent 13 seasons with the Bengals, then finished his career with a one-year stint in Tampa Bay with former Cincinnati head coach Sam Wyche in 1993.
Munoz went to 11 straight Pro Bowls with the Bengals from 1981-1991. Additionally, he was named an AP All-Pro nine times. The three-time Offensive Lineman of the Year (’81, ’87, ’88) was a first-teamer on the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team. On that squad, Munoz got 26 first-team votes, tied for the most with Jerry Rice.
Blocking for Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, Munoz helped lead Cincinnati to two Super Bowls. He was part of the 1998 Hall-of-Fame class along with Tommy McDonald, Mike Singletary, Paul Krause, and Dwight Stephenson.
Willie Anderson (Auburn): 1996 — 1st rd, 10th overall
Anderson was part of the Bengals’ rebuild in the early 21st century. In his first nine years, Cincinnati went 50-94, which unfortunately hurts Anderson’s bid to be in the Hall of Fame.
Anderson missed just two games in his first 11 years in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl four straight years from 2003-’06 and was a three-time first-team All-Pro.
His perseverance paid off in 2005 when the Bengals broke a 15-year playoff drought, winning the AFC North in 2005.
Anderson missed nine games in 2007, which would be his last season in the Queen City. He spent one year with the Ravens before hanging up his cleats in 2009.
A.J. Green (Georgia): 2011 — 1st rd, 4th overall
Green was the last top-10 pick by Cincinnati back in 2011. He, along with Andy Dalton, are the namesakes of a new era in Bengals’ football that began at Radio City Music Hall that day. The “Dalton-Green era” lead Cincinnati to five straight playoff runs and Green has been one of the best receivers in the NFL in that span.
Green has been named to the Pro Bowl in all six seasons. In 2016, a partial hamstring tear left him 36 yards away from joining Randy Moss as the only receivers in league history to start their career with six straight 1,000-yard seasons.
On the Bengals’ all-time receiving list, Green ranks fourth in catches (481) and touchdowns (49) and second in receiving yards (7,135).
Eddie Edwards (Miami): 1977 — 1st rd, 3rd overall
Edwards was part of the Bengals’ “WEBB” defensive line that included two other first-rounders, Wilson Whitley and Ross Browner, along with third-rounder Gary Burley.
Edwards was the longest-tenured and had the biggest impact, though. He spent all 12 of his NFL seasons in Cincinnati, leading the Bengals to a conference title in 1981.
Sacks were not counted as an official statistic until 1982, so Edwards’ sack total of 47.5 is actually higher. He was the franchise leader in the category until 2015 when Carlos Dunlap leapfrogged him.
Edwards never made the Pro Bowl but was an All-Pro selection in 1981.
Mike Reid (Penn State): 1970 — 1st rd, 7th overall
One of the most unknown ‘what-if?’ stories in NFL history. Reid won the Outland Trophy and Maxwell Award in 1969 with the Nittany Lions and went seventh overall to Cincinnati in 1970.
He only played five years with the Bengals, going to the Pro Bowl twice and being named an All-Pro twice. But Reid had another passion: music. He earned a BA in music from Penn State and performed as a pianist at Symphony Orchestra’s in Utah, Dallas, and Cincinnati.
Reid left Bengals’ founder and head coach Paul Brown in 1975 to pursue a career in music that continues to this day. He has written more than 30 top-10 country hits for proclaimed artists like Ronnie Milsap and Bonnie Raitt. He even composed music for a Civil War musical and wrote six more musicals of his own.
Reid was a 2005 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Top 5 Worst
Akili Smith (Oregon): 1999 — 1st rd, 3rd overall
Smith is perhaps the biggest bust in franchise history. Smith went third overall in the noteworthy 1999 draft. The four picks after Smith were Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey, who all had illustrious NFL careers.
Over four years in Cincinnati, Smith had troubles adjusting to an NFL offense. He went 3-14 as a starter, throwing just five touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
His inabilities forced the Bengals to sign veteran Jon Kitna in 2001. Smith was released after Cincinnati’s 2-14 campaign in 2002, while Kitna took over as the starter.
Smith was cut in training camp by Green Bay in 2003 and Tampa Bay in 2005. He finished his playing days with one-year stints in the CFL with the Frankfurt Galaxy and Calgary Stampeders.
Ki-Jana Carter (Penn State): 1995 — 1st rd, 1st overall
The Bengals had back-to-back no. 1 picks in 1994 and 1995. They took Dan Wilkinson first, then running back Ki-Jana Carter out of Penn State. In fact, they traded up to get Carter, giving Carolina the no. 5 and no. 36 pick for the first overall selection.
Carter signed a seven-year, $19.2 million contract, the highest ever by an NFL rookie. But injuries soon took its toll on Carter’s potential career. He tore a knee ligament on the third carry of his first preseason game and missed the entire 1995 season.
He played 31 games over the next two seasons but only ran for 728 yards. In ’98 and ’99 combined, Carter missed 28 games, totaling just eight carries in that span. His inability to stay on the field prompted the Bengals to draft Corey Dillon in the second round in 1997, who is still the team’s all-time leading rusher.
Carter played one year with the Redskins in 2001, was cut by the Packers in 2002, then played minimally for New Orleans in 2003 and 2004.
David Klinger (Houston): 1992 — 1st rd, 6th overall
Klinger set the NCAA record for touchdown passes with Houston in 1990. He seemed like the Bengals’ next franchise quarterback with Boomer Esiason on the backend of his career.
However, Klinger was never given the chance to succeed. Mostly due to his offensive line, that allowed him to be sacked 82 times over a three-year span. Klinger went 4-20 as a starter with the Bengals, throwing more interceptions (22) than touchdowns (16).
He spent two seasons as a backup quarterback in Oakland. In 1998, he signed with Green Bay to backup Brett Favre but was cut during the preseason.
Ricky Hunley (Arizona): 1984 — 1st rd, 7th overall
Hunley was an All-American linebacker in 1982 and 1983 at Arizona. He seemed destined for a successful NFL career and the Bengals chose him in the first round in 1984, just two seasons removed from a trip to the Super Bowl.
The problem was that Hunley never saw the field with the Bengals. His agent was looking for a contract worth up to $500,000 along with other demands. Cincinnati eventually traded his draft rights to Denver for three additional picks.
He played seven seasons in the NFL with three different teams, never making the Pro Bowl. He eventually did make it to Cincinnati — as a linebackers coach from 2003 to 2007.
Hunley’s contract dispute may have actually benefited the Bengals. Tim McGee and David Fulcher came to Cincinnati courtesy of Hunley’s trade and were big factors in the team’s run to Super Bowl XXIII.
David Verser (Kansas): 1981 — 1st rd, 10th overall
Verser was primarily a kick returner over his four-year tenure in Cincinnati. Over that span, he totaled just 23 receptions for 454 yards and three touchdowns.
His most noteworthy moment with the Bengals was fumbling in Super Bowl XVI in an eventual loss to San Francisco.
Verser was outshined by draft classmate Cris Collinsworth, who was picked in the second round. Collinsworth, who also fumbled in that Super Bowl, spent eight seasons with the Bengals.
Verser played in three games in two years with the Buccaneers and Browns but failed to record a catch.
Most mock drafts have the Bengals going defense at no. 9. They’ve drafted just two defenders — Keith Rivers and Justin Smith — in the top 10 since 1995.