It’s hard to ignore the impact Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has had in just three years in the NFL. He’s already being recognized as the best DT in all of football, and some think he may just be the best defensive player in the entire league in 2013. NFL.com broke-down just how dominant Atkins was last season, and how the Bengals hope to work out a long-term extension with him prior to the start of the 2013 NFL season:
While the Detroit Lions‘ Ndamukong Suh and the Baltimore Ravens‘ Haloti Ngata have become household names, Atkins has vaulted past them as the most dominant defensive tackle in the NFL. He’s about to get paid as such entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Bengals started dialogue with Atkins’ agent in January, and the team is expected to prioritize an extension for its best player before the start of the 2013 season.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis will open training camp as the Bengals’ #1 back on the depth chart, but he’ll have a tough time holding on to that spot. Rookie Giovani Bernard was taken in the second-round to become the team’s feature back, and ESPN’s Matt Williamson believes it won’t take long for Bernard to assume the starting role:
What you see is what you get with Green-Ellis — and it isn’t good enough. Bernard is an exciting prospect with loads of big-play ability. He can run inside with quick feet and more power than you might suspect, but is also very dangerous on the perimeter with his long speed and elusiveness in the open field. Green-Ellis will surely be superior to Bernard in pass protection to start the season, but Bernard is far more dangerous as a receiving option.
Chris Roling of Yahoo Sports believes the addition of outside linebacker James Harrison will benefit the young Bengals both on and off of the field:
Many have swept the Harrison signing under the rug for one reason or another, but he may provide the consistency and mental impact the defense needs to remain a top unit. It is also worth mentioning the impact he can have on the career paths of guys like Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict. Outside of his history with illegal hits, you are not going to find a much better role model on the field for impressionable youngsters.