ESPN Ranks Two Bengals Drafts Among Top Classes This Century

Cincinnati has selected pretty well since the calendar turned to the 2000s
Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) is introduced before the Week 14 NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 33-20.

121315 Steelers Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) is introduced before the Week 14 NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 33-20. 121315 Steelers Bengals / Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK
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CINCINNATI — ESPN broke down the best NFL draft classes this century and Cincinnati landed the 2001 and 2006 classes on the list. 

Aaron Schatz loved the early century haul that included Chad Johnson and placed it 11th.

"There's value in this class at the top and bottom," Schatz wrote. "The Bengals started off by using the No. 4 pick on defensive end Justin Smith. He was a 14-year starter for the Bengals and 49ers, making five Pro Bowls once he moved on to San Francisco and finishing third in the Defensive Player of the Year balloting in 2011.

"In the second round came wide receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, who had nine years as an NFL starter with six Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections. Then, in the seventh round, came Johnson's running partner T.J.Houshmandzadeh, who had an 11-year career and six seasons of at least 900 receiving yards. Between Johnson and Houshmandzadeh was fourth-round running back Rudi Johnson, who started for five years in Cincinnati and rushed for at least 1,300 yards in three straight seasons."

Next, Andrew Whitworth and Jonathan Joseph's crew checked in at seventh overall.

"The Bengals took only four players who had real NFL careers in this draft, but one of them will make the Hall of Fame and three of them had at least 60 career Approximate Value points, according to Pro Football Reference," Schatz wrote. "First-round pick Johnathan Joseph had a 15-year career, primarily as a starting cornerback in Cincinnati and Houston, with two Pro Bowl selections.

"Second-round pick Andrew Whitworth was named first-team All-Pro twice, once for the Bengals and once for the Rams, and helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI in his final season. Third-round pick Frostee Rucker played 12 NFL seasons for four teams as a 5-technique defensive end. Fourth-round pick Domata Peko had a 15-year career as a defensive tackle, mostly as a starter for Cincinnati and also with Denver, Baltimore, and Arizona."

Cincinnati and New Orleans were the only teams to have two classes on the list.

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Russ Heltman

RUSS HELTMAN

Russ Heltman is a contributor for AllBearcats and AllBengals. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH.  Russ can be found on Twitter: @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.