HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after he sacked T.J. Yates #13 of the Houston Texans in the first half during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
For the past few weeks, CBSSportsLine's Pete Prisco has been hinting at the fact that he would be releasing his list of the top-100 players in the NFL. He finally released the list today, after much deliberation I'm sure, and it's definitely an interesting read. Prisco made this list off of film study and relying on NFL scouts' opinions, making it a valid assessment.
In year's past, the Cincinnati Bengals would have likely been slighted on a list like this, even though certain players would have been deserving. But, thanks to some recent success, Prisco gives the nod to a small handful of worthy Bengals.The first Bengal to make the list was offensive tackle, Andrew Whitworth at No.69. Of Whitworth, Prisco writes:
He is one of those players who never gets the due he deserves. He is a good pass protector who has improved as a run blocker. He never backs down.
He wasn't on the list last year and it's good to see the big guy get some national love. He's been slighted from the NFL Network's Top-100 List before to much chagrin, but Prisco feels that he's worthy here. We agree. Whitworth comes in ahead of fellow offensive linemen Jared Veldheer, Josh Sitton and Logan Mankins.
The next Bengal on the list is their star wide receiver, A.J. Green, coming in at No.64. It's quite a feat to make this list as a rookie and Prisco acknowledges that.
As a rookie he flashed star potential -- and that was with a rookie quarterback and without an offseason. Scary.
Obviously being a rookie last year, Green wasn't on Prisco's list, but we think he'll be on this list for years to come. Prisco hints at a common theme that both Green and Andy Dalton should benefit from a full 2012 offseason together and we think that there's a lot of truth to that.
The last Bengal to make the list was defensive tackle, Geno Atkins, and he cracked the top-25. At No. 24 overall, Prisco has a lot of admiration for him:
He was a dominant inside player last season, beating up on good guards at times. He has the quickness to get a pass rush, but he's strong enough to hold up against the run.
Atkins is indeed an emerging star who can truly do it all. He was a steal in the fourth round and in two short years, he's gone from rotational player to Pro Bowler. We think he has a lot more big things ahead and he is likely one of the team's biggest priorities to lock up long-term.
Dalton missed making this list and some may argue that he is worthy. The man who beat Dalton out for the 2011 Rookie of the Year Award, Cam Newton, made the list at No.83, so an argue could be had there. Regardless, it's good to see the team get some much-deserved recognition.