Gil Brandt Feels Marcus Hardison Is An Impact Player
Nov 8, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (1) spikes the pitchfork in celebration after beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 55-31 at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
During this year’s draft, the Cincinnati Bengals used several of their middle to late round selections to bolster their defense. They were able to add a player for each of the defense’s four units: defensive line, linebacker, cornerback, and safety. These selections should help ensure the future of the defense, as the team may have added three to four future starters.
One of these defensive selections was former Arizona State defensive lineman Marcus Hardison. The Bengals likely fell in love with Hardison due to his versatility. Hardison may be considered by the Bengals to be a defensive tackle, but while playing for the Sun Devils, Hardison was often used as a defensive end.
Despite playing around 300 pounds, Hardison managed to be a prolific defensive end. He accounted for 53 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, and 10 sacks. Hardison’ unique blend of athleticism and size allows him to play all over the line and should remind fans of Wallace Gilberry. If Hardison works hard and is motivated to learn, he could end up being as productive as his new Bengals counterpart.
NFL pundit Gil Brandt recently identified some Day Three (of the NFL draft) impact players. One of those players was Hardison and Brandt feels the Bengals got a bargain when selecting Hardison in the fourth round.
"“I had Hardison ranked No. 101 heading into the draft, meaning I thought he was good enough to go around the end of the third round — and I still think that’s true. The former high school quarterback and junior college transfer broke out last season with 10 sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He’s a strong (27 bench reps at the combine), well-built, outstanding athlete and has great quickness off the ball. Hardison is still learning to play his position, but he has a good future on a team that needs help rushing the passer.”"
Brandt is right. The Bengals desperately need help when rushing the passer and Hardison could provide both now and into the future. The team has sought a counterpart for Geno Atkins in the middle of the line for some time. Finding this counterpart becomes all the more important as Domata Peko‘s skill continues to decline. Hardison isn’t a viable nose tackle replacement, but he could team with Atkins to help collapse the middle of the pocket during passing situations.
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If Marcus Hardison possesses the necessary work ethic, his ceiling could be very high. He and Atkins could be the type of duo who makes things easier for everyone on passing downs. The defensive ends will enjoy more 1:1 matchups while the linebacker and defensive backs won’t have to work as hard when covering receivers. Gil Brandt’s opinion is a highly respected one amongst NFL pundits and fans. Hopefully this particular opinion proves correct in the coming season.