By John Turney
The First- and Second-team lines are solid, most making All-Rookie teams of one stripe or another. Anthony Munoz being the top rookie, rated the 5th best tackle in the NFL by Proscout, Inc. in 1980.
Blair Bush was a consensus All-Rookie pick in 1978 as was Anderson in 1996 and Zeitler in 2012.
The honorable mention linemen are Russell Bodine, 2010, Tom Scott, 1993, Andrew Whitworth, 2006, Bruce Kozerski (1983), Mike Arthur, (1991), Trevor Robinson, 2012, and Glenn Bujnoch, (1976).
Greg Cook is the #1 QB followed by Andy Dalton. David Klingler, 1992 All-Rookie, gets honorable mention. Klinger started four games in a season where there were no real standout rookie quarterbacks. Purists may not like seeing his name listed.
Bob Trumpy made the East AFL-All-Star game and Dan Ross was a solid rookie starter and a consensus All-Rookie pick in 1979. The wide receivers are particularly strong for rookies. Isaac Curtis was a Pro Bowler and totaled 45 catches for 843 yards (an 18.7-yard average) and 9 TDs. A.J. Green was also a Pro Bowler and had a 1,000-yard receiving season as a rookie. Cris Collinsworth was a Pro Bowler, consensus All-Rookie, and a 1,000-yard receiver as well in 1981. Eddie Brown wasn't a Pro Bowl but put up excellent numbers for a rookie with his 53-942-17.8-8 line.
Carl Pickens, (All-Rookie) 1992, Darnay Scott, (All-Rookie) 1994, Peter Warrick, 2000, Billy Brooks,(Second-team All-Rookie, 1976), Chris Henry, 2005, Jordan Shipley, 2010, all get honorable mentions at receiver as do Tony McGee (All-Rookie 1993) and Tyler Eifert, 2013, at tight end.
Paul Robinson, 1968, and Ickey Woods, 1988 are the First-team runners with Corey Dillon, 1997 and Boobie Clark, 1973. Robinson was an All-AFL selection and Woods led the NFL with a 5.3 yards per rush. He also had 15 rushing touchdowns and a great dance. Jeremy Hill, 2014 is a strong honorable mention. Giovani Bernard, 2013, was a narrow miss for one of the top slots but still merits a strong honorable mention. Ryan Hewitt, get a mention since he was a 2014 All-Rookie at fullback. In this set of articles, we didn't pick rookie fullbacks in the mold of Moose Johnston or Lorenzo Neal. But if in recent years, any got some special mention we will not them.
Horst Muhlmann, 1969, is four top rookie kicker and he's backed up by Doug Pelfrey, 1993. We take into account era so the highest kicking percentage doesn't always get the top spot. Clint Stitser, 2010, is the top special mention. He was a consensus All-Rookie that year.
The top rookie punter is Dave Lewis, 1970 followed by Dale Livingston, 1968. Lewis had a 39.0 net punting average (a 46.2 gross average) and was All-Pro and Livingston had a 39.3 net average (43.4 gross average). Pat McInally, (All-Rookie, 1976) gets honorable mention as does Brad Costello, 1998 (All-Rookie) and 2004 All-Rookie punter Kyle Larson.
Guy Frazier was an excellent special teams player as a rookie on the 1981 Bengals AFC Champs and Daze Jones led the Bengals with 18 tackles and a forced fumble in 2006.
David Verser gets an honorable mention as a kicker returner in 1981 since he was All-Rookie as selected by Pro Football Weekly. Mitchell Price, 1990, too, gets an HM as well as Quan Cosby for his consensus All-Rookie season of 2009 and Alex Erickson, 2016.
Carlos Dunlap is the top designated rusher as a rookie and he's backed up by Robert Geathers for now. By year's end, Carl Lawson will take the Second-team spot from Geathers and could challenge Dunlap's top spot. In 2010, Dunlap was All-Rookie and had 9.5 sacks in 12 games (no starts). Currently, Lawson has 4.5 sacks in 7 games (1 start).
The First-team defensive ends on our rookie team are Gary Burley, 1976 (80 tackles, 9½ sacks), and Sherman White, both of whom earned consensus All-Rookie status. White had 4½ sacks in 1972 as a rookie starter. Ross Browner, 1978 (69, 6½ sacks) and Justin Smith are the backups.
John Copeland, 1993 (consensus All-Rookie), Ron Carpenter 1970, (who moved to defensive tackle), and David Grant, (1988) get honorable mentions as defensive ends. Copeland had 48 tackles and 3.0 sacks and Carpenter had 46 tackles and 2 sacks.
Dan Wilkinson, 1994 (44 tackles, 5.5 sacks), and Mike Reid, 1970 (9 games, 5 sacks) are the top defensive tackles followed by Wilson Whitley, 1977 (49 tackles, no sacks), and Eddie Edwards, 1977 (All-Rookie, 71 tackles 4 sacks). Tim Krumrie is an honorable mention for his 1983 rookie campaign as is Pat Sims's 2008 season.
The linebacking corps is composed of Bill Bergey, 1969 (152 tackles, 11 PD, 2 INT), and Takeo Spikes, (Consensus All-Rookie, 1998), on the inside and James Francis, 1990 (consensus All-Rookie, 78 tackles, 8 sacks), and Al Beauchamp, 1968 (2 picks, one for a TD) on the outside.
They are backed by Odell Thurman (remember him?), 2005 (98 tackles, 5 picks, 5 forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks), and Brian Simmons, 1998 (78 tackles, 3.0 sacks), on the inside and Alfred Williams, 1991 (38 tackles, 3 sacks), and Reggie Williams, 1976 (106 tackles, 7 PD, 2 sacks and 1 INT), outside.
We almost went with Thurman over Bergey even though Thurman's career self-destructed. His five interceptions is a high number for a middle linebacker in this era and he also had 5 forced fumbles and was in on a couple of sacks. However, Bergey averaged over 10 tackles a game and was also good in pass defense.
Rey Maualuga, 2009 (59 tackles, 3 FF), Ricardo McDonald, (All-Rookie,1992), Steve Tovar, 1993 (All-Rookie, 85 tackles), Carl Zander, (1985), and Vontaze Burfict, 2012 (127 tackles), all get honorable mentions at linebacker. Armegis Spearman, 2000, was a rookie starter and an All-Rookie pick and had 70 tackles for the season. It's strong enough to be an HM here.
Lemar Parrish, 1970 (44 tackles, 5 picks 18 PD), and Ken Riley, 1969 (59 tackles, 4 picks, 16 PD, 2 FR and 1 BK), are the top corners backed up by Louis Breeden, 1978 (69 tackles, 3 picks), and Leon Hall, 2007. Artrell Hawkins, 1998, and Lewis Billups, 1986, gets special mention as does Marvin Cobb, 1975, who got some All-Rookie votes.
David Fulcher, 1986 (105 tackles, 4 INT, 2 sacks), and Tommy Casanova, 1972 (consensus All-Rookie pick, 5 INT and was a fine punt returner as well), get the top safety slots and are followed by Bobby Kemp, 1981, and Madieu Williams, 2004. Darryl Williams, 1992, is a strong honorable mention. Jerry Anderson was an All-Rookie pick in 1977 and as such gets a mention here.