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.
This version will be different. Since we can't choose multiple selections for a poll, we'll need to run two. The first will determine the No. 1 receiver, which will be extremely exclusive to three players. The second will take care of the No. 2 wide receiver (which we'll probably run on Friday for a little spacing). Don't worry if you think we're missing a receiver or two. We'll add those in the second poll, including those that didn't win this one, for the No. 2 receiver position.
We're closing the wide receiver poll at midnight.
Chad Johnson (six Pro Bowls, two playoff appearances): If the Bengals sold a book that highlighted the best receiving records in franchise history, it might as well be called "What Chad Johnson did in Cincinnati." From '01 through '10, Johnson set the franchise mark in receptions (751), yards receiving (10,783), receiving touchdowns (66), and 100-yard games (31).
Johnson currently owns the four-best seasons in yards receiving, capped by 1,440 yards receiving in 2007. Two of the top four single-game performances belong to Johnson, led by his 260 yards receiving effort against the San Diego Chargers in 2006.
Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz is the only Bengals player to have gone to more Pro Bowls than Johnson.
You also can't dispute his role in putting professional football back on the national map for Cincinnati.
Carl Pickens (two Pro Bowls): Before Chad Johnson, there was Carl Pickens. Though leaving a sour after taste for his eventual departure, Pickens didn't have the luxury of a well-placed Carson Palmer spiral thrown to him. In fact, he caught touchdowns from six quarterbacks during his eight seasons with Cincinnati.
And during those eight seasons, Pickens overall production lists him second in receptions (53), third in yards receiving (6,887), second in receiving touchdowns (63), and third in 100-yard receptions (19). Additionally Pickens holds the franchise record for most receptions in a game (13 against Pittsburgh in 1998), touchdowns in a season (17 in 1995) and most consecutive 100-yard performances (four in 1994).
Carl Pickens also owns the record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown, who scored ten between 1994 and 1995.
A.J. Green (two Pro Bowls, two playoff appearances): Though Johnson and Pickens have established their powerful legacy in Cincinnati's record book, A.J. Green may turn out to be the best out of everyone. Green became the first player in NFL history to reach 100 receptions, 1,500 yards receiving and ten touchdowns during the first 20 games of a player's a career. Green set a franchise record by scoring a touchdown in nine consecutive games in 2012, wiping out T.J. Houshmandzadeh's record in 2007, along with an assortment of rookie marks in 2011. Green's 162 receptions is the second-most in NFL history during a player's first two seasons.
Look at it this way. His career is two-seasons old. In those two seasons, he's already amassed two Pro Bowls and two postseason appearances.