The Bengals haven’t had an elite defensive lineman since the days of Tim Krumrie. After just two years in the NFL, the Bengals may have finally found a player worthy of staking that claim in defensive tackle Geno Atkins .
The former Georgia Bulldog has come along way from being the 120th pick in the 2010 draft. Atkins was looked at as undersized as a defensive tackle who lacked both height and bulk. At the scouting combine, he measured 6’1 and weighed in at only 293 lbs, when the average weight of a defensive tackle is closer to 310 lbs. He was the combine’s top performer in the bench press, so he did make up for his lack of size with his dominant strength, which allowed him to shed blockers and get into opposing backfields.
Still, scout weren’t sold, and one of the best players in the 2010 NFL Draft fell to the Bengals in the 4th round. 13 Defensive tackles were drafted ahead of him, including Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, who were selected 2nd and 3rd overall in the draft. After a slow start in the 2010 season in which Geno was on the field for limited snaps, he exploded in the second half of the year, getting four sacks in the final nine games of the season, and finished the year with 31 quarterback disruptions. Only 12 other defensive tackles had more than Atkins. It was becoming evident that Atkin’s future in the NFL was very bright, and people began taking notice of this.