We've begun a fun series here at Cincy Jungle where we picture some past Bengals greats on the current version of the team. We started with the infancy stages of the team from 1968-1979, and now we're focusing on one of the best decades in team history: the 1980s.
With two Super Bowl appearances and some of the best players in team history playing in the decade, the amount of players who could be good fits on the 2016 Bengals' roster are plentiful. Maybe some we point out will be stacking already deep position groups, but their contributions to past teams simply can't be overlooked.
Anthony Munoz, Offensive Tackle, 1980-1992: Do we really need to explain why today's Bengals roster would benefit from having the best player in team history? Even though the current Bengals team is loaded with first and second round picks at offensive tackle, Munoz, at a minimum, could bridge the transition of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, who are entering their second year and are competing for a starting role for the first time. I mean, it's Anthony Munoz.
Reggie Williams, Linebacker, 1976-1989: One of the most productive and under-appreciated Bengals in the history of their franchise, Williams was productive in the latter half of the 1970s, but really asserted himself as a team defensive captain in the 1980s. He was a fiery leader, though undersized by today's NFL standards at the position (6'1", 228 pounds), but still finished with 41 sacks and 16 interceptions in his career. With Vontaze Burfict facing a three-game suspension, Williams would be a nice do-it-all player at the position on today's team.
Eddie Edwards, Defensive Line, 1977-1988: Another player who was a victim of quarterback sacks not being an official statistic in the beginning of his career, Edwards was the team's career leader in the category until Carlos Dunlap broke his mark last season. Edwards exhibited the versatility gene Marvin Lewis loves out of his defensive linemen, playing both defensive tackle and end in his Bengals career. Though he has the height of the current monster ends the Bengals employ, he was slighter in his playing days, but would still be a great complement to Dunlap and Michael Johnson--especially on passing downs.
Ross Browner, Defensive End, 1978-1986: Before the dynamic duo of Johnson and Dunlap, the Bengals had Edwards and Browner, who were solid in their own right. Though he may never have lived up to the No. 8 overall Draft billing the Bengals spent on him, Browner was on the 1981 Super Bowl defense and ranks No. 10 on the team's list of career sack leaders, though the stat wasn't accounted for through the first four years of his career. Like Edwards, Browner would be a solid rotator behind the team's current behemoths.
Tim McGee, Wide Receiver, 1986-1992, 1994: The small speedster would be a great complement to the current wide receivers the Bengals have on their roster. McGee excelled at catching the long ball off of play-action and was a solid No. 2 receiver throughout Boomer Esiason's tenure. If he was on today's Bengals team, he'd likely take Marvin Jones' former role and be a valuable supplemental piece to the offense.
Eddie Brown, Wide Receiver, 1985-1991: Brown's career was cut short after hernia issues hit him in the early 1990s, but he was a big-play guy for Esiason and then-head coach, Sam Wyche. It's funny: Brown wasn't widely-known as the speedy deep threat McGee was, yet he had a 16.9 yards per reception average to McGee's 16.7 in his career. Like McGee, Brown would be a great receiver to have in the 2016 stable.
Cris Collinsworth, Wide Receiver, 1981-1988: Many forget just how productive Collinsworth was for the Bengals, particularly in the early part of his career. Though he can be critical of the Bengals in his current platform on NBC's Sunday Night Football, he was a three-time Pro Bowler with the team and had four 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his eight years. His ability to play outside and inside as a receiver would be a valuable asset to the 2016 Bengals.
Rodney Holman, Tight End, 1982-1992: Even though the Bengals have re-loaded at the position since 2013, with Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah added in the last three years, Holman still goes down as one of the best tight ends in the history of the team. Unlike many of the stars at the position today, Holman was both an able blocker and a great pass-catcher, making him yet another big offensive weapon for the Bengals in the 1980s.
Stanford Jennings, Running Back/Kick Returner, 1984-1990: Need a special teams player? How about a running back who can get first downs on the ground and through the air? Jennings was a valuable member of the Bengals throughout the 1980s, best known for his kickoff return touchdown against the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. With many fans currently pining for a new return man, Jennings and his 20 total touchdowns as a Bengal in seven seasons (nine rushing, nine receiving, two kickoff returns), seems like he'd be the consummate Lewis guy.
Pete Johnson, Fullback, 1977-1983: In the 1970s and 1980s, the fullback position was typically played by a "thumper" runner who could pound it in from the goal line, as opposed to a guy who took out would-be tacklers by blocking. Larry Csonka and John Riggins were prime examples, and Johnson was another in the era. In seven years with the Bengals, Johnson had a whopping 70 total touchdowns (64 rushing, six receiving), but also blocked for other backs, too. While the Bengals don't necessarily need a big runner right now, fullback help would be welcomed. Ryan Hewitt is nursing an injury and Jeremy Hill is coming off of a sophomore slump campaign.
Larry Kinnebrew, Fullback, 1983-1987: Like Johnson, Kinnebrew was an able runner who found the end zone often and blocked for other explosive backs as well. In five years with the Bengals as a rotational back, Kinnebrew had almost 3,200 yards from scrimmage and 40 total touchdowns with Cincinnati.
James Brooks, Running Back, 1984-1991: As part of one of the best player trades in team history, the Bengals got the most out of Pete Johnson and then traded him for Brooks before the 1984 season. A multi-dimensional back in the mold of current Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, Brooks was an integral part to the explosive Bengals offense of the 1980s. Though the running back position is currently crowded, Brooks would be a huge weapon in both the running and passing game today.
Tim Krumrie, Defensive Tackle, 1983-1994: Sometimes players who have more will and effort than physical talent can have great NFL careers. Krumrie was a 10th round selection who was one of the key pieces to the Bengals' defense throughout his career. Though the Bengals brought in Andrew Billings in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and re-signed both Pat Sims and Brandon Thompson in free agency this year, Krumrie would still be a valuable rotator in a strong defensive front.
Bruce Kozerski, Offensive Lineman, 1984-1995: If you were to ask current offensive line coach Paul Alexander what he covets most in his offensive linemen, he'd likely point at two coinciding talent attributes: athleticism and versatility. The team drafted Dave Rimington to be their long-term center, but Kozerski ended up starting at the position toward the middle of the 1980s. He also had spot duty at guard and was one of the keys to what the Bengals did under Wyche on offense.