2. Geno Atkins, DT
It’s really difficult to keep Atkins from the number one spot in these rankings, but he falls just short of the top spot. Atkins has been an absolute beast for the Bengals for the last 8 years, and Year 9 is going to be just as good. Playing alongside some of the best defensive ends in the league, Atkins is going to get lots of one-on-one matchups with helpless interior linemen.
Much like Dunlap, Atkins is a true three-down player. His combination of physicality and technique is almost unmatched at the position, giving him easy access to the backfield on run and pass plays. Over the last three years, Atkins has put up 29 sacks, which would be impressive for a defensive end. He’s at 61 sacks for his career, which is just 1 shy of Dunlap.
Atkins has graded out as a top five defensive tackle each of the last three years, and was the best performing player on the Bengals last season, according to advanced analytics. Atkins brings a calm stability to a defense that has had its ups and downs (looking at you, Burfict). Like Dunlap, he leads by example, and he will do that again in 2018. Opposing teams already know this, but expect Atkins to beast this season.