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Justin Smith retirement closes out Bengals greatest draft class


The retirement of 49ers defensive lineman Just Smith closes the books on the Bengals' most successful draft ever, the 2001 edition where the Bengals selected four players that ended up in their top four all-time for receiving, rushing, and sacks.

Smith, out of Missouri, played 111 of his 221 NFL games during his first seven NFL seasons in Cincinnati as a 4-3 right end. After they took him with the fourth pick, his 43.5 sacks put him fourth on the Bengals' all-time list.

Then in the next round they took wide receiver Chad Johnson out of Oregon State and 751 catches and 10,783  yards later he left after the 2010 season as the club's all-time leading receiver.

In the fourth round they plucked running back Rudi Johnson out of Auburn and in seven seasons he finished as their third all-time rusher with 5,742 yards.

Then they finished it off by going back to Oregon State and grabbing Johnson's running mate in the seventh round, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. In eight seasons he caught 507 balls for third most all-time in Bengals history, and set their season record with 112 catches in 2007.

Smith's 221 NFL games in 14 seasons are 14 more than the Bengals' record, held by cornerback Ken Riley since he played the last of his 207 games in 1983, his 15th season.

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