Cincinnati Bengals’ 2010s All-Decade Starting Team
Despite the mediocrity of recent seasons, the Bengals enjoyed their fair share of success in the 2010s, enjoying 5 straight playoff berths in Dalton’s first 5 seasons. Over the previous 10 years, the Bengals have employed an abundance of talent at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cornerback – William Jackson III
Cornerback has been a position that the Bengals have spent a lot of draft capital in over the years and so there were a number of suitors for the 2 outside places. The 24th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Jackson was drafted one spot before his expected suitor – the Steelers, who resorted to taking the far inferior, Artie Burns. Despite an on-and-off year in 2019, Jackson has demonstrated the highest ability at the position over the past 10 years. 2017 was a prime example of this, where he received the 8th highest PFF score for a cornerback that year.
Cornerback – Adam Jones
Despite having a few missteps in his time in Cincinnati including THAT wildcard altercation with Joey Porter, Pacman Jones revitalized his career with his time in Cincinnati and was the number one corner in the Bengals’ greatest defense of the decade in 2015. I found it difficult leaving Dre out of the team, having been a figurehead of the team throughout the decade, however, Pacman made too many plays, both at corner and in the return game, to leave him off the list.
Slot Corner – Leon Hall
This was the toughest decision, choosing between Hall and the recently departed Darqueze Dennard. Hall remained in the Queen City until 2016 and was a valuable member of the secondary playing predominantly in the slot. Both Dennard and Hall both embraced the physicality of the position well, however it is Hall’s coverage ability that gives him the upper hand for me.
Free Safety – Jessie Bates III
A second-round pick in 2018, Bates hit the ground running upon arrival, with the Bengals feeling comfortable in cutting George Iloka, who was touted to play Free Safety that year before Bates had seen a snap. Having started every game since, the third-year safety has demonstrated terrific potential, with 16 pass breakups, 6 interceptions and 1 forced fumble in his first 2 years. However, Bates has not yet reached his potential.
Strong Safety – George Iloka
This has not been a position of strength across the decade, however, Iloka had a number of decent years at Strong Safety alongside Reggie Nelson. As a British Bengals fan, one of my fondest Bengals memories was watching him intercept Kirk Cousins at Wembley during the 2016 season.