As we pointed out Thursday morning, we're configuring the best Bengals lineup since Cincinnati last appeared in the Super Bowl (1988 season, 1989 calendar year). We'll go through each position, provide the candidates, give you my pick, and then you guys debate/poll the winners.
With the quarterback poll in full-swing, let's move on to running back.
Corey Dillon (three Pro Bowls): It's extremely hard to find another running back with the amount of success that Corey Dillon accomplished in Cincinnati. Currently Cincinnati's rushing leader with 8,061 yards rushing, Dillon currently holds the top-three performances in franchise history. His 246 yards rushing against Tennessee in 1997 set a league record for most yards rushing by a rookie in a single game. Three years later, Dillon surpassed Walter Payton's record for most yards rushing in a single-game with 278 yards against the Denver Broncos.
Dillon holds the franchise record for most 100-yard performances (28), nine more than the player with the second-most. His 96-yard touchdown run against the Lions in 2001 remains the team record for longest run... by nine yards. Dillon is also the only Bengals player with four rushing touchdowns in a single-game and his 45 touchdowns is currently third in franchise history.
Dillon earned four Pro Bowls in his career and three of them were with Cincinnati. Like we said. It'll be hard arguing someone better.
Rudi Johnson (one playoff appearance, one Pro Bowl): There was a time when Rudi Johnson thrived in Cincinnati's offense, obviously highlighted by one of the game's quarterbacks, wide receivers, and offensive lines. Because of that, the respect that he should have earned never came to pass.
That being said, Johnson currently ranks second in franchise history with 48 rushing touchdowns, third in yards rushing (5,742), holds the top two rushing performances in a single season (1,458 yards in 2005 and 1,454 yards in 2004), and he scored 36 rushing touchdowns during a three-year span ('04-'06). Johnson ranks second with 19 100-yard rushing performances.
Cedric Benson: The Cincinnati Bengals defense and Cedric Benson. Those were the primary reasons why Cincinnati shocked everyone sweeping the division and claiming the AFC North in 2009. Benson was a stud in 2009, averaging 96.2 yards rushing per game. Though never a back with huge burst, Benson was a perfect fit in Cincinnati's run-heavy offense that year. Benson was a second-alternate for the Pro Bowl that year behind the monster seasons of Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Ray Rice.
Eventually Benson left Cincinnati with 4,176 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
Harold Green (one Pro Bowl): Harold Green was the type of running back that won't win much recognition, but was memorable enough for some of us nostalgic folk who reminisce (aka, waking up in a sweat from a nightmare) about the good ol' days. A Pro Bowl player in 1992, Green gained 1,384 yards from scrimmage (1,170 yards rushing), which included 41 receptions.
Ultimately his career was butchered behind some of the worst Bengals teams ever assembled (anywhere from 1991-1994) during the Dave Shula era. This era was prior to the 1995 season where, even though the Bengals were bad, they were acquiring better individual talent. It was a barren team when Green played and he finished with 3,727 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 86 games played during his six years.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: We're only adding Green-Ellis for the sake of completeness (and hell, we added Harold Green). Green-Ellis did some good things with Cincinnati. Ran for 100 yards or more four times in the span of five games, which has only been accomplished once (Paul Robinson in 1968). His touchdown production took a dive in 2012 with Cincinnati (24 with New England, only six in Cincinnati), but his receptions (22), yards rushing per game (68.4) were career-high numbers.