Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackleBrandon Thompson
(98) celebrates his sack of Cleveland Browns quarterbackJohnny Manziel
(not pictured) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals beat the Browns 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
4. Brandon Thompson
This one may come as a shocker to some, but the Bengals need to lock up Brandon Thompson before he has a big 2015 season. Thompson is arguably Cincinnati’s best defensive tackle outside of Geno Atkins; and before you ask, yes, I absolutely think that Thompson is better than Domata Peko.
Peko, although a team leader and lovable character, has been a liability on defense and needs to be replaced. And Brandon Thompson is Domata Peko’s perfect replacement. Earlier this summer, ESPN’s Coley Harvey wrote an excellent piece on how the Bengals need to turn to Brandon Thompson to stop the run.
"When Thompson wasn’t on the field, the Bengals surrendered an average 4.63 yards per carry to opposing running backs, according to ESPN Sports & Information. When he was in the game, the Bengals’ defense held opposing rushers to a 3.13 rushing average."
Although Thompson has dealt with a fair share of injuries in his brief tenure with the Bengals, he is still a solid run defender who needs more time on the field. While Geno Atkins andWallace Gilberry
figure to play the bulk of the passing downs on defense, Thompson is Cincinnati’s best run-stopper and needs more playing time to prove his abilities.
In the meantime, however, Cincinnati needs to sign Thompson to a new deal before the season starts. Should Geno Atkins or Domata Peko struggle or deal with injuries in 2015, Thompson will be the next man in line. And while Devon Still is showing promise, Thompson figures to be the better of the two.
And like Peko, Thompson seems to have a bit of chemistry with Rey Maualuga, as evidenced in the picture above. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of the money sign from Thompson come 2015.
Next: 3. Team Leader Passing the Torch