2013 Cincinnati Bengals Player Preview: Domata Peko
Early in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Peko is fresh and able to eat up two blockers, This gives Rey Maualuga a clean path to tackle Jonathan Dwyer.
Brandon Thompson seems like the most likely to give Domata a break, since he was drafted as the prototypical, big-bodied nose tackle in 2012, but Margus Hunt might be more important to maximizing Peko’s play in 2013.
Like Robert Geathers, Hunt can slide down and rush from DT on passing downs, taking Peko off the field when he is least effective. Hunt ran a 4.6 40 versus 5.27 for Peko and could potentially get upfield very well depending on his learning curve, being very new to the game.
And Hunt’s 82 inch wingspan 38 reps on the bench press are very positive signs that he will be a more effective pass rusher from the interior and closed-side defensive end than Geathers, as well.
As one who has often seen Peko towards the end of the game, arms flailing to no avail while rushing the passer, the sentiment to move on from Peko is well understood. But, despite the apparent depth of the Bengals’ offensive line, the lack of involvement of Thompson and Devon Still were what affected Peko the most. Just observe the defensive line improvement after the return of Pat Sims.
But, like Jamaal Anderson was supposed to do last season, Hunt offers a versatile rotation player between defensive tackle and strong side defensive end. With any luck, the continued development of Still and Thompson will further diminish Peko’s snap count, thus maximizing his value. While his snaps may be reduced, look for Peko to maintain his numbers and improve his overall performance.