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Top 10 Bengals in the Marvin Lewis era: No. 5, Willie Anderson

One of the team’s best players in history enjoyed some of his better years under Marvin Lewis.

NFL Preseason - Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals - September 2, 2005 Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

When it comes to naming some of the best offensive linemen in Cincinnati Bengals history, Willie Anderson’s name is up there just behind Anthony Munoz.

Unfortunately for Anderson, him playing for an awful team during the first seven years of his illustrious 13-year career, as well as playing the more unheralded right tackle spot, marks him as one of the most underrated tackles of his generation.

Still, Anderson enjoyed five awesome seasons under the Marvin Lewis renaissance, including four Pro Bowl designations and three First-Team All-Pro nods from 2003-2006. Because of this, one has to wonder how many other league-recognized accolades Anderson would have grabbed had the Bengals been a better team during the first part of his career.

Accolades and milestones under Marvin Lewis:

Single-season franchise marks: Anderson was largely responsible for Rudi Johnson setting single-season franchise marks in 2004 (1,454) and 2006 (1.458) for rushing yards. He was also instrumental in some of Carson Palmer’s and the Bengals’ best statistical seasons by protecting him, which were from 2005-2007.

All-Pro designations: 3 (2004-2006)

Pro Bowls: 4 (2003-2006)

Why he makes the list:

Massive offensive production in his tenure under Lewis: Look above at some of the other franchise marks the offense set during the mid-aughts. Though there were other talented players on that offensive line, Anderson was a huge piece of this and rightfully got most of the notoriety for it.

Locker room leader: As a tenured veteran and a guy who had seen a lot of ups and downs with the Bengals, many new faces brought in by Lewis leaned on Anderson for guidance. He was happy to provide it and was a beacon of both maturity and leadership in a sometimes-volatile locker room.

Why he isn’t ranked higher:

Time spent under Lewis: We have considered a number of factors when comprising this top 10 list and time under the team’s coach is one of them. While Anderson arguably had made the most of his five years under Lewis, it’s just a smaller sample size than some of the other great Bengals who outrank him on the list.