As we pointed out last 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 defensive end polling ongoing, let's get started on defensive tackle. Like the defensive end, we'll simply pick the best two, unconcerned about base defenses or alignments.
Geno Atkins (two Pro Bowls, First-Team All-Pro, two playoff appearances): Even if his career were to tragically end tomorrow, Atkins would still be considered one of the best defensive tackles in franchise history. Already a two-time Pro Bowler, a one-time First-Team All-Pro, his 12.5 quarterback sacks are the most in franchise history since Eddie Edwards (13.0) in 1983. Atkins also shredded the team's record for most sacks by a defensive tackle, lead the team with 15 tackles-for-loss, quarterback pressures, and criminals placed behind bars.
John Thornton (one playoff appearance): One of several veteran free agents that Marvin Lewis signed in 2003 to help dissolve a losing culture, Thornton spent six seasons in Cincinnati as a productive starting defensive tackle, generating 17 quarterback sacks, an interception, 14 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, five recoveries and over 150 tackles. Now the adopted son of Cincinnati, Thornton stayed in the queen city, analyzing the Bengals while trying to carry on a rich Bengals tradition with a career in broadcasting.
Dan Wilkinson: Remember the point about Atkins shredding the record for most defensive tackles by a defensive tackle in franchise history? It was Big Daddy's record of eight quarterback sacks in 1996 that he broke. The former first overall draft pick from the 1994 NFL draft only spent four seasons in Cincinnati, generating 25 quarterback sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, and one recovery.
Domata Peko (three playoff appearances): A nose/one-technique tackle that consumes blockers while sacrificing his own statistical glory, Peko has become a mainstay in Mike Zimmer's defense.
Tony Williams: Williams joined the Bengals in his fifth season after spending his first four with the Minnesota Vikings. In four seasons with Cincinnati, Williams generated 12 quarterback sacks (10 in the first two years alone), and three fumble recoveries.
Oliver Gibson: After spending four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gibson joined the Bengals as a nose tackle/one-technique defensive tackle. During his five seasons with the Bengals, Gibson generated 12 quarterback sacks, an interception, six passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.
Kimo von Oelhoffen: Before he was known as the guy that popped quarterback's knees with his shoulder, von Oelhoffen actually spent six seasons in Cincinnati, generating five sacks, a forced fumble, recovery and over 100 tackles. Other than that, we don't like him very much. In fact, if you vote for him, you run the risk of being banned.