|#2 Eric Steinbach|
During Marvin Lewis' first draft as an NFL head coach in 2003, the former defensive coordinator selected the team's franchise quarterback in Carson Palmer with his first-ever pick, who we named as the best first round pick by the Bengals during the Lewis era. Lewis selected Iowa guard Eric Steinbach with his next selection, giving the team a premiere offensive lineman that would help the Bengals become of the league's premiere offenses in the NFL.
Along with Bobbie Williams, Rich Braham, Levi Jones and Willie Anderson, Eric Steinbach was part of the one of the league's best offensive lines; the group largely responsible for the successes that made the Bengals one of the best offensive units in the NFL.
Mostly noted as an athletic offensive lineman, Steinbach often pulled from his left guard position to open lanes during the team's destructive Power-O rushes off the right side, often sealing out linebackers trying to shoot the gaps. As a result, the team's feature back at the time, Rudi Johnson, set franchise rushing records in 2004 and 2005. Steinbach helped pave the way for the team's rushing offense that scored 55 touchdowns from 2003-2006 and rushed for 5,736 yards just in his first three seasons as the team's left guard.
Steinbach was the definition of versatility, posting starts at left guard against Cleveland on September 17 in 2006 for the injured Levi Jones and at center against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the injured Rich Braham. He recorded time at left tackle and at center during the team's playoff run in 2005.
Playing in 63 of 64 games, starting all but one, Steinbach was named the second alternate in the Pro Bowl following the 2006 season, his last with the Bengals. Steinbach would leave Cincinnati for Cleveland during the 2007 offseason, signing a seven-year deal worth $49.5 million with $17 million guaranteed with the Browns.