May 22, 2012; Cincinnati, OH USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) during organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-US PRESSWIRE
[Editor's Note: Pete Prisco's article initially posted as a FanPost by OregonBengalsFan (which is very good by the way). Nick provides an alternative perspective]
Pete Prisco, NFL writer with CBSSports.com, recently examined all 32 NFL teams and named one overrated and one underrated player from each team. For the Bengals, Prisco called running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis overrated and defensive tackle Geno Atkins underrated.
The Bengals signed Green-Ellis in March, hoping for far greater reliability over incumbent Cedric Benson. Many do not expect Green-Ellis to become a game-changing Pro Bowler, rather defined as a solid back scoring touchdowns with far greater ball security witnessed by this team recently. I would say calling him overrated may be a bit harsh, or perhaps the Bengals are that solid. Prisco writes:
Yes, he's a solid runner. But where's the home-run speed? They paid to make him their starter, but he doesn't give them much more than what they had."
Perhaps Green-Ellis shows similarity to what Benson offered, but reliability is something that head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden covet. Benson was not reliable enough, on or off the field, recently, becoming more of a liability than a benefit. While the Bengals paid him to be a starter, they are also counting on Bernard Scott to provide a change of pace this season, often referred within a running back by committee. So while many expect a lot from Green-Ellis, it is not like anyone expects him to make or break the season for Cincinnati.
Prisco is spot on when it comes to Atkins being underrated. Atkins made the pro bowl last season as an injury replacement. Prisco thinks he deserves more credit than that:
"It was a crime he didn't get picked for the Pro Bowl last season. He went as an injury replacement. Put on his tape against Marshall Yanda in Baltimore and you will know why."
Atkins struggled against the run during his rookie season, he greatly improved last season, continuing to flourish as a pass rusher. Pro Football Focus believes that Atkins was the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the NFL last season. He ranked slightly higher than Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
A few more tidibts from Prisco's list: He named Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Bills' overrated player, Troy Polamalu was his choice for Pittsburgh's overrated player, and Reggie Wayne was his overrated player for the Indianapolis Colts.