We are currently ranking the best players based on the round that they were drafted during the Marvin Lewis era. Here is our list so far. #5 Rey Maualuga. #4 Carlos Dunlap. #3 Madieu Williams. #2 Eric Steinbach
|#1 Andrew Whitworth|
Andrew Whitworth earned several honors while at LSU, rewarded as a a two-time winner on the All-SEC team from 2004-2005. Selected in the second round with the 55th pick overall, Whitworth was quickly forced into the team's starting lineup when Eric Steinbach moved to left guard to replace an injured Levi Jones and the rookie left tackle playing at left guard against Cleveland. A few weeks later, Whitworth started at left guard against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 15, moving to left tackle to replace Jones, who left the game with an injury while Steinbach started at center. Whitworth would largely play left tackle his rookie season for an oft-injured Levi Jones.
Whitworth started every game in 2007, his sophomore season, mostly as a left guard. The 2007 offensive line ranked second in the NFL only allowing 17 quarterback sacks the entire season. In 2008, Jones started the first ten games at left guard before moving out to left tackle midway through the game against the Philadelphia Eagles where Levi Jones left in the first quarter. Whitworth would go on to suffer an ankle injury a few quarters later that would put him on Injured Reserve. And who can forget the fight with defensive tackle John Henderson in which Whitworth was ejected for trying to protect his eyes from being gorged? Whitworth left the stadium to a standing ovation.
Marvin Lewis named Whitworth as the starting left tackle before the 2009 season and Whitworth's career really took off.
In 2009, when the Bengals revised their offensive philosophy to be a power rushing offense, Whitworth helped pave the way for Cedric Benson's career season and the Bengals offense that posted 140 yards rushing in eight games during the season. Whitworth only allowed five quarterback sacks in 1,153 recorded snaps and was ranked as one of the best pass blockers at left tackle by Pro Football Focus.
Whitworth followed that up with a campaign that one could consider his best. Rated as the best offensive tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, Whitworth only allowed three sacks and nine quarterback pressures. Only Jake Long recorded a better pass protection grade and Whitworth's rush blocking rated as fifth best among starting left tackles. Oh, and then there's the receiving touchdown Whitworth recorded against the Pittsburgh Steelers (the Bengals lone touchdown in the loss).
The result was nothing short of great. In a surprising fan vote, Whitworth earned the Pro Bowl nomination with the fan vote, only to be excluded from the Pro Bowl thanks to the coaches and players portion of the vote. Not only is Whitworth our selection for best second round pick during the Marvin Lewis era, one could argue that Whitworth is currently the best Bengals player on the roster.