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NFL Cincinnati Bengals

2013 NFL Draft: Cincinnati Bengals Top 15 Draft Picks Since 2000

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2013 NFL DRAFT: Top 15 Cincinnati Bengals Draft Picks since 2000

AJ Green
Jerry Lai- USA TODAY Sports

Over the past twelve years, Head Coach Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals have not had a great deal of luck during the NFL Draft, drafting almost entirely busts every year. The likes of 2004 no-show running back Chris Perry, 2008's unproductive linebacker Keith Rivers and 2005's injury plagued linebacker David Pollack have all been first-round picks in the last ten years by the Bengals and none of them managing to make an impact past their rookie season. In fact, the years’ 2004 through 2007, the Bengals only managed to retain a maximum of 2 players that were drafted past the pre-season in each year.

The Bengals however, have managed to improve their drafting abilities the last few years, drafting well since 2009, where they drafted five players that are still with the team including right tackle Andre Smith and franchise-tagee Michael Johnson. The Bengals had a particularly good draft year in 2011, when they drafted so well in the first and second rounds - a first-round star wide receiver in AJ Green and a second round steal of a quarterback in Andy Dalton, that they have managed to make it to the play-offs the last two seasons. Starting offensive guard Clint Boling was also drafted in the fourth round of that year, making it a successful draft overall despite the Bengals only holding onto three of the eight players they drafted that year past the middle of the first season.

Here is a look at the top fifteen choices that the Bengals have made in the draft since 2000 (you'll notice that most of them from 2009 onwards.)

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Honorable Mention: Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict
David Kohl - USA TODAY Sports

A special mention to linebacker Vontaze Burfict before we start this slide show. Burfict, although a star player in the Cincinnati Bengals defense last season, was an undrafted free agent after on anf off-field issues during his junior year at Arizona State and therefore ineligible for the list. In only one season, Burfict has shown that he is one of the greatest players signed out of college by the Bengals, leading the team in tackles last season, with 127 but unfortunately without a draft round, we'll have to keep moving.

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15. Rudy Johnson

Rudy Johnson
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

Drafted in the 4th round in 2001, running back Rudi Johnson played 95 games over his 7 year Bengals career (5 as a starter,) rushing for 5,979 yards and 49 touchdowns; an average of nearly 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns in each of his seasons including his two as back-up for the Bengals all-time leading rusher Corey Dillon. Johnson would eventually get his opportunity to show the team he was worth the draft pick.

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14. Madieu Williams

Tackle on Drew Brees
Derick Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Madieu Williams is a 2004 second-round draft choice out of The University of Maryland that started at free safety for the Bengals for 4 years. Williams recorded 9 interceptions 4 forced fumbles and 31 pass deflections in 49 games before eventually moving on to the Minnesota Vikings, theand then eventually to the Washington Redskins.

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13. Domata Peko

Domata Peko celebration
Frank Victores - USA TODAY Sports

A steal of a 4th round draft pick, 28 year-old defensive tackle Domata Peko started with the Bengals in 2006 and has started in 106 games, racking up 346 tackles and 9.5 sacks and stopping over 75% of passes sent in his direction.

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12. Eric Steinbach

Eric Steinbach
Kim Klement

Selected in the second round by the Bengals, offensive guard Eric Steinbech played four excellent years, starting in 63 of 64 games he was with the Bengals for, before moving onto the Cleveland Browns on a 7-year $49.5 million contract in 2007. He received such a high paying, long term contract because of his athleticism and relentless work-ethic. Steinbech was considered the top guard in the free agency that season also because of his ability to play at any position on the offensive line.

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11. Justin Smith

Justin Smith
Jeff Curry - USA TODAY Sports

The 4th overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, Justin Smith is currently a 12-year veteran of the NFL, playing the first seven of those years with the Cincinnati Bengals. in six of those seven years, Smith was top two in teams sacks and leading the defensive line in tackles in three of those seasons. Over his seven seasons with the Bengals, Smith totaled 466 combined tackles and landed on the list of Bengals all-time sack leaders, at fifth (43 sacks.)

Since leaving the Bengals, Smith has made 4 Pro Bowls and been a big presence on the San Francisco 49ers, with 32 sacks and 322 sacks in five seasons.

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10. Jermaine Gresham

Jermaine Gresham
Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

Drafting a tight-end in the first round does not often pay off for a team, but luckily for the Bengals this one did. Jermaine Gresham is one of only three tight ends to ever bring in more than 50 catches in each of his first three seasons, and at 64 catches 737 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, Gresham placed second behind receiver AJ Green on the team and secured himself a second Pro Bowl nod in the process.

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9. Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer
Mitch Stringer - USA TODAY Sports

It's obvious that although the Bengals had very few good seasons with Carson Palmer at quarterback, he still had a few amazing years; 2005 and 2006 in particular. In 2005, Palmer was named AFC Player of the Year, NFL Alumni Player of the Year and FedEx Air Player of the year on his way to throwing for 3,836 yards 32 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. In 2006, he wasn't quite the same but was still voted Pro Bowl MVP, throwing for a career high 4,131 yards that season with 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. It's pretty difficult to rate where Palmer should be in this list, considering the seemingly greater downs than ups in his career, 3 losing seasons, 3 break even seasons and only 2 winning seasons places him on this list but unfortunately leaves him at tenth.

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8. Andre Smith

Andre Smith
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The hard question here was not what position he should be at on this list, but really whether he should be on the list at all. An extremely talented first round pick in 2009, right tackle Andre Smith spent his first two years plagued by injury and weight issues that caused the team to add a weight management clause to his contract and then electing not to add an extra year to his rookie contract.

Two years on from these issues and Andre Smith recovered well to show that he is perhaps the greatest right tackle in the league. Smith clearly knows that too, as he currently in contract talks with the Bengals in the hopes of getting an extension on his contract, reportedly looking for $9 million per year, $4 million more than the next highest right tackle, Tennessee Titans David Stewart.

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7. Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

Drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft and hailed as 'one of the best past rushers to play the game' by Head Coach Marvin Lewis, Michael Johnson has been on the field for the Bengals for the last four seasons, starting the last two. Racking up 52 tackles, 11.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble fumble this season, the Bengals felt it necessary to franchise tag him and work on a contract over the off-season to keep him with the Bengals for the foreseeable future.

Johnson's 11.5 sacks were the second most of any Bengal player since 1983, only to be outdone in 2012 also, by Geno Atkins.

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6. Geno Atkins

Geno Atkins
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

A fourth round steal in 2010, Geno Atkins has been perhaps the top defensive lineman for the Bengals over his last two seasons. Playing in a more and more increasing role in 2010, Atkins became a full-time starter by his second season and since then has been one of the key defenders behind the Bengals reaching the Play offs the last two seasons. With two team-high sack seasons in 2011 and 2012 and leading the NFL in sacks for interior linemen in 2012, as well as 53 tackles four forced fumbles last season, Atkins has become a familiar face on the Bengals defensive line as well as the AFC Pro-Bowl team. His presence atop the list of elite DT's was also cemented with first-team selection to prestigious Associated Press All-Pro team last season.

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5. Jonathan Joseph

Jonathan Joseph
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Joseph, a starter at cornerback for the Bengals since he was drafted in the first round in 2006 until he moved to the Houston Texans in 2011 is one of the greatest players to play for the Bengals, particularly in the last ten years. During his five year career with the Bengals, Joseph had 14 interceptions including three returned for touchdowns, defended 76 passes and 220 tackles.

Although Joseph has had a few off-field issue in his career including being arrested for possession in 2007, his on-field work ethic showed to other teams that he is worth the risk when his contract expired and he moved to the Texans in 2011.

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4. Leon Hall

Leon Hall
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

As we get to the end of the list, it's more and more obvious who you're going to see. The top five of the Bengals will likely be the same top five for years to come. No defensive player has been more deserved of a top five spot in this list and likely most lists that involve the greatest Bengals players in the last decade as well as franchise history, than Leon Hall.

A 2007 first round pick out of the University of Michigan, Hall made an immediate impact coming in at cornerback for the Bengals with a team high 5 interceptions on the season, beating out second-year Jonathan Joseph. With stats like 22 career interceptions (fifth in franchise history,) as well as 89 passes defended and 5 forced fumbles in his career, it's clear to see why Hall is the top defensive player on this list.

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3. Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

Hailed as the future of the Bengals, 2nd round draft pick Andy Dalton has not yet succeeded he is capable of bringing the Bengals to a championship, although has managed to get very close in his first two seasons. Leading the Bengals to a play-off berth in his first two seasons has rocketed Dalton to the 3rd spot on this list, although not squeezing in any higher because of his ginger hair.

Dalton has had an 83.9 passer rating over his first two seasons as an NFL quarterback, passing for 7,067 yards while leading the Bengals to 19 wins out of the last 32 games. During this off-season, the Bengals are electing to hold onto most of their team while likely drafting a running back and a wide receiver to compliment Dalton, with the view of bringing the Bengals to the AFC Championship and possibly the Super Bowl next season.

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2. AJ Green

AJ Green
Rob Leifheit - USA TODAY Sports

It's only a matter of time until the future Hall of Famer Aj Green makes it to the top of the Bengals lists of everything, from records to greatest players. Only finished his second year as an NFL wide receiver, this former first round draft pick has racked up over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and doesn't show signs of slowing down. As quarterback Andy Dalton finds his groove more over the next few seasons, Green will reap the benefits of this and will become a top receiver in the NFL.

Chosen to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons and to the All-Pro team last season, Green has already come close to breaking franchise and NFL records including Chad Johnson's single-season record of 1,440 and TJ Houshmanzadeh's single-season receptions record of 112. Green was also only seven receptions shy of breaking the NFL record of 168 receptions in a receivers first two seasons.

The number two spot on this list won't be his for much longer, he's definitely a receiver that will be moving up in the world.

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1. Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson
Frank Victores - USA TODAY Sports

Holding the franchise records in a number of categories, including Most receiving yards in a season (1,440) Most receiving yards all-time (10,507) Most receptions (751) Most touchdown receptions (65) Most receiving yards in a game (260,) Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson, a 2nd round pick out of Oregon State University back in 2001, is one of the greatest receivers to play football.

Known for his on-field antics, his loud mouth and his creative celebrations, Johnson has always had the numbers to back up any shenanigans that he involved himself in. Johnson has been the mastermind behind some of the greatest celebrations I have ever seen and during the 2009 HBO series 'Hard Knocks' he also showed that he is behind some of the most infamous sayings by players and referees alike in the NFL 'Child Please' and 'Kiss A Baby' heard around the league a lot over the last decade.<\p>

Johnson proved that he was one to back up his talk when he signed for the New England Patriots after ten years with the Bengals and became a much quieter person, since he no longer had the numbers or the touchdowns to prove himself. Although he has fallen since leaving the Bengals in 2010, he is still arguably the greatest Bengals player in franchise history and certainly that has been drafted since 2000.