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    Best Cincinnati Bengals Draft Picks of All Time: From Willie Anderson to Anthony Muñoz

    The Cincinnati Bengals have been drafting players for 56 seasons, so it takes a special player to crack the list of the top 10 in franchise history.

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    Last modified on June 21, 2024 | 10:31 AM EDT

    Published on June 20, 2024 | 9:00 AM EDT

    The Cincinnati Bengals have made 697 draft picks since their first season in 1968. So it takes not only a special talent, but a great value to land on our list of the top 10 of all time.

    This isn’t a ranking of the top players in team history. Rather it’s a collection of the best draft picks. Landing a future Hall of Famer in the sixth round merits greater consideration than a two-time Pro Bowler selected in the top five.

    Here are the top 10 draft picks in Bengals history.

    Ranking the Greatest Draft Picks in Cincinnati Bengals History

    Honorable mention, alphabetically (with round, year): Al Beauchamp (fifth, 1968), Louis Breeden (seventh, 1977), Ja’Marr Chase (first, 2021), Cris Collinsworth (second, 1981), Corey Dillon (second, 1997), Boomer Esiason (second, 1984), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (seventh, 2001), Chad Johnson (second, 2001), Essex Johnson (sixth, 1968), Rudi Johnson (fourth, 2001), Bruce Kozerski (ninth, 1984), Joe Mixon (second, 2017), Joe Walter (seventh, 1985), Andrew Whitworth (second, 2006), Reggie Williams (third, 1976).

    10) Max Montoya, G, Round 7 (No. 168 Overall) | 1979

    A three-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Bengals, Max Montoya started two Super Bowls for the Bengals while appearing in 157 games with 144 starts.

    Letting Montoya walk away in free agency after the 1989 season remains one of the biggest mistakes in Cincinnati’s history, as he went on to play five more years for the Los Angeles Raiders while going to another Pro Bowl.

    For his career, Montoya appeared in 223 games with 195 starts.

    Among the other interior linemen selected in 1979, Kent Hill, a first-round pick, and Joe Bostic, a third-rounder, appeared in nearly 100 fewer games than Montoya (132). Bostic was a distant second in starts (115).

    9) Bob Trumpy, TE, Round 12 (No. 301 Overall) | 1968

    The 30th of 41 players selected in the Bengals’ inaugural draft in 1968, Bob Trumpy spent his entire 10-year NFL career in Cincinnati and never missed more than three games in any season.

    Trumpy went to four Pro Bowls and was voted a first-team All-Pro in his second season. When he retired after the 1977 season, he was the team’s career leader in receptions (298), receiving yards (4,600) and receiving touchdowns (35).

    Trumpy’s 22.57 yards per reception in 1968 remains the second-highest total in team history. Among all tight ends in the league, he ranked second in receiving yards and third in receptions and touchdowns during the span of his career.

    8) Willie Anderson, OT, Round 1 (No. 10 Overall) | 1996

    Besides Hall of Famers Anthony Muñoz and Ken Riley, Willie Anderson has come closer to enshrinement in Canton than any other Cincinnati player.

    Anderson played 12 seasons for the Bengals, was named an All-Pro three times, and went to four Pro Bowls. And it would have (should have) been even more if not for the fact that he played his first seven seasons during the darkest days of the franchise.

    It’s hard to make this list as a first-rounder because expectations of greatness are already baked in. But Anderson not only crafted one of the best careers in franchise history, the gap between him and the tackles selected after him is canyon-esque.

    Anderson played in 181 games for Cincinnati and started 173, the fourth most in franchise history.

    The three tackles selected after Anderson in the first round — John Michels, Jamain Stephens, and Andre Johnson — combined to start 39 of 67 games.

    7) Ken Anderson, QB, Round 3 (No. 67 Overall) | 1971

    The Bengals could have selected Ken Anderson in Round 1, and he still would have had a solid argument to be on this list.

    Taken in the third round out of tiny Augustana (Illinois) College, Anderson was the sixth quarterback selected in a class of 23 in 1971.

    Anderson is one of three to start a Super Bowl (Joe Theismann, Jim Plunkett) and one of two to win an NFL MVP award (Theismann).

    And he ranks first among the group — by a wide margin in most cases — in games played (192), wins (91), passing yards (32,838), passing touchdowns (197), completion percentage (59.3), and passer rating (81.9).

    Only Lynn Dickey had more yards per pass attempt (7.5 to 7.3).

    6) Tim Krumrie, DT, Round 10 (No. 276 Overall) | 1983

    Known for his ferocity, intensity, and grit, Tim Krumrie spent his entire 12-year career in Cincinnati, and his 188 games played remain the fifth most in franchise history.

    Of the 335 players drafted in 1983, Krumrie’s 188 career games rank 11th overall and first among those selected after the ninth round.

    A 10th-round pick out of Wisconsin, where he finished his career as the school’s career leader in tackles, Krumrie earned two Pro Bowl invitations and was voted a first-team All-Pro in 1988. He was the nose tackle who anchored the defense that helped lead the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII.

    MORE: Worst Cincinnati Bengals Draft Picks of All Time

    It was early in that Super Bowl when Krumrie suffered a gruesome broken leg but famously stayed in the locker room to watch the rest of the game before going to the hospital.

    Krumrie led the Bengals in tackles for four consecutive seasons from 1985-88, tying Jim LeClair for the longest streak in franchise history.

    5) Joe Burrow, QB, Round 1 (No. 1 Overall) | 2020

    Even with an incomplete body of work, Joe Burrow has to be included on this list after taking Cincinnati to the Super Bowl in his second season and already smashing the franchise record for postseason victories with five in just his first three years.

    Once his career is complete, Burrow could be No. 1 on this list. Yet, he’ll need to make the Hall of Fame or win a Super Bowl for that to become a reality.

    Until then, the midpoint on this list is a solid showing for a No. 1 overall pick who came into the league with high expectations that have mostly been met or exceeded.

    4) Geno Atkins, DT, Round 4 (No. 120 Overall) | 2010

    The 14th defensive tackle selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, Geno Atkins outperformed each of them during his 11-year career, the entirety of which was spent in Cincinnati.

    When his playing days ended after the 2020 season, Atkins had more sacks (75.5) and pressures (452) than any other DT in his draft class. Furthermore, his 75.5 sacks ranked eighth among all defensive tackles drafted since the stat became official in 1982.

    Atkins went to eight Pro Bowls and earned two first-team All-Pro honors. He’s third on Cincinnati’s career sacks list, and his 12.5 sacks in 2012 rank fifth on the team’s single-season list.

    3) Lemar Parrish, DB, Round 7 (No. 163 Overall) | 1970

    No seventh-round pick in the Super Bowl era has more Pro Bowls than Lemar Parrish, whose eight selections are tied with Shannon Sharpe for the top spot on the list.

    Six of Parrish’s Pro Bowls came in his first eight seasons with the Bengals.

    The 29th defensive back taken in the 1970 NFL Draft, Parrish recorded 25 interceptions while playing for Cincinnati and returned four of them for touchdowns. He added another four touchdowns on punt returns, three on fumble returns, one on a kickoff return, and one on a blocked field goal.

    Parrish remains tied for fifth in NFL history for most points scored by a non-offensive player with 78. Only Deion Sanders (114), Rod Woodson (102), Ronde Barber (86), and Ed Reed (80) have more.

    And Parrish is the only non-offensive player in the league since the 1970 merger to have multiple games with multiple touchdowns, doing so three times (95-yard fumble and 83-yard blocked kick at Buffalo in 1970; interceptions of 25 and 33 yards at Houston in 1972; and fumbles of 90 and 47 yards vs. Washington in 1974).

    Parrish was as durable as he was explosive, appearing in 105 of a possible 112 games during his eight seasons with the Bengals.

    2) Ken Riley, DB, Round 6 (No. 135 Overall) | 1969

    One of only four sixth-round picks league-wide to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ken Riley started more games for the Bengals (202) than any player in franchise history.

    Perhaps the most impressive feat on Riley’s résumé is the fact that he earned his first All-Pro selection at age 36 in his 15th and final season.

    His eight interceptions in 1983 were one shy of his career-high set in 1976, and he returned two for touchdowns, nearly matching his total of three pick-sixes from his first 14 seasons in the NFL.

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    A college quarterback at Florida Atlantic, Riley missed only three games during his first 10 NFL seasons and just eight for his career. His 65 career interceptions are tied for the fifth most in NFL history.

    If you’re wondering who the other sixth-round Hall of Famers are: Terrell Davis, Joe Klecko, and Jack Christiansen share the honors.

    1) Anthony Muñoz, OT, Round 1 (No. 3 Overall) | 1980

    It doesn’t matter what criteria you want to use, Anthony Muñoz is an easy choice for the top spot on this list.

    In his first seven NFL seasons, Muñoz started 104 of a possible 105 games. And for his career, Muñoz’s 184 starts rank third in franchise history. His eight postseason starts also are more than any other Cincinnati player.

    Muñoz went to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro nine times in 10 years. He was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1998. In The Athletic’s recent ranking of the Top 100 players in NFL history, Muñoz was No. 12.

    But while it seems as though he was a slam-dunk pick for the Bengals from the start, there were questions about Muñoz’s health after he underwent three major knee surgeries in college and played only one game his senior season.

    The Bengals were comfortable with their medical exams and enthralled with his potential. Muñoz rewarded that faith with the greatest career in franchise history.

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