Dec 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Bengals won the game, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Believe it or not, defensive tackle Geno Atkins is still one of the most underrated players in the NFL, so says Mike Freeman of CBS Sports:
"It’s not a coincidence that the Bengals’ playoff resurgence is in conjunction with the growth of Atkins. He’s that good but remains a hidden gem to many in the sport."
Anyone who takes the time to break down Atkins’ film will easily see he’s one of, if not the best defensive tackle in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus rated him the third-best player in the entire league in 2012:
"The best performance we’ve ever seen from a defensive tackle during our time grading, Atkins is setting about redefining what you can expect from his spot. How good was he? Good enough to have the highest grades in run defense and pass rushing… besides earning heaps of praise from any guard who had the misfortune of going up against him. The numbers are gaudy with Atkins, yet they’re only a piece of the puzzle that explains how dominant he was.Best Performance: Week 4 at Jacksonville, +9.7Key Stat: His 78 combined sacks, hits and hurries were 20 more than the next best defensive tackle."
Jamison Hensley is doing a positional power ranking series for each AFC North team, and coming in at #2 at tight end were the Bengals, just behind the Baltimore Ravens:
"The Bengals potentially have the best tight end tandem in the division. They certainly have invested in the position, selecting a tight end in the first round in two of the past four drafts. Jermaine Gresham has admittedly not lived up to expectations, even though his catches and receiving yards have increased every year. The problem with Gresham is his lack of explosiveness and increased drops, especially in the playoff loss at Houston. It was a wise move for the Bengals to draft Tyler Eifert in the first round. He can stretch the field and make an impact in the red zone."
While a lot of the focus this offseason as of late has been on how big of an impact rookies Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard would have this year, don’t forget about wide receivers Cobi Hamilton and Tyrone Goard, two players who are expected to be fighting for one of the final roster spots during training camp. Joe Reedy mentioned them when talking about what stood out to him on Day 1 of Bengals minicamp:
"Two receivers who showed a lot of potential were sixth-round pick Cobi Hamilton and college free agent Tyrone Goard. Both made plenty of nice grabs in both sessions."