5. Carson Palmer
2003 marked a tectonic shift for the entire Cincinnati organization. Marred as the Bungles throughout the 90s and early 2000s, they looked to right the ship, first, they hired Marvin Lewis. He spent 2002 in D.C. as the Assistant head coach and Defensive Coordinator before being hired by Cincy in 2003.
Our boys were sitting with the first overall pick and Marvin Lewis decided to go with a quarterback to help captain this ship. USC Trojan Carson Palmer was selected first overall in the 2003 draft, bringing hope to all fans in the Queen City.
Palmer and Lewis clicked immediately and in just their third season together they lead Cincy to the postseason in what was a promising year. In 2005 Palmer led the Bengals to their first winning season since 1990.
Palmer was also the NFL Passing Touchdown and Completion Percentage leader in 2005. The offense was the best since the Boomer era. It, unfortunately, unraveled when Palmer was hurt early in the first-round playoff game and they lost to the Steelers.
They only made the postseason one more time with Palmer but lost in the first round against the New York Jets in 2009. Palmer found success late in his career with the Arizona Cardinals, so much so, he was named to their Ring of Honor in 2019.
I know that Bengals fans aren't fond of Palmer due to some comments he's made in recent years but to deny that he was a good draft pick by the team is crazy.
4. Willie Anderson
Apparently, Cincy knew how to pick the men who play in the trenches. Willie Anderson came out of Auburn in 1996 and quickly became one of the best right tackles of the late 90s and early 2000s.
In 2006, Anderson only allowed 11 quarterback pressures, which was the fourth-fewest allowed by an offensive tackle from 2006-2019. He was the first right tackle to be selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls since Jackie Slater and no right tackle has done it since.
He made three First-Team All-Pro teams in a row, which also hadn’t been done since the 1970s. He also made the all-rookie team in 1996. He was also selected for the Bengals Ring of Honor in 2022.
In January this year, Willie Anderson was selected as a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame. Cincy only has one player in the Hall of Fame and Willie would be a worthy second addition.