Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Carl Pickens, Cincinnati Bengals
Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport /

56. . WR. (1992-99). Carl Pickens. 22. player

  • 2x Pro Bowl (1995-96)
  • 2x Second-Team All-Pro (1995-96)
  • AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1992)
  • NFL leader in receiving touchdowns (1995)
  • Franchise record for most touchdown receptions in a season (17)
  • 4x 1,000-yard receiving seasons
  • 3x 10+ touchdown reception seasons

The one position group that the Bengals seem to have gotten right more often than not in their history has been at wide receiver. While the 1990s weren’t all that kind to Cincinnati as a football team, wide receiver Carl Pickens was certainly a bright spot for the Bengals in his prime.

After being a two-time All-SEC receiver at Tennessee, the Bengals used a second-round pick on the Vols wideout in the 1992 NFL Draft. Despite going to the Bengals at No. 31 overall, Pickens would end up winning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year that fall. He had 26 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown that season.

But that was just the beginning for Pickens’ great career with the Bengals. During his third year in the league in 1994, Pickens would have his breakout season. He had 71 grabs for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pickens went over 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdown receptions the next three seasons.

While he didn’t garner a Pro Bowl nod in 1994, he made the AFC squad in both 1995 and 1996. He was also named to the All-Pro second team those two years. 1995 will probably be seen as Pickens’ best season as a professional. He had 99 catches, setting career highs in receiving yards (1,234) and touchdown receptions (17).

Yes, Pickens had 17 trips to pay dirt in 1995. The led the NFL and remains a franchise record for most touchdown receptions in a season by a Bengals player. Though the yardage and touchdown grabs ticked down a hair in 1996 with 1,180 and 12, respectively, Pickens did set a career high with 100 receptions that campaign.

Overall, Pickens went over 1,000 receiving yards four times in a season with the Bengals. Three times did he have over 10 receiving touchdowns in a season playing for Cincinnati. After eight years with the Bengals, Pickens would play his final NFL season with the 2000 Tennessee Titans.

Though he briefly signed to play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2001, he had a change of heart, retiring before the start of the year at the age of 31. Pickens amassed 530 receptions for 6,887 yards and 63 touchdown catches in 120 games with the Bengals over eight seasons.