Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has rocketed to underground super star over the last three years since he was selected in the fourth round by the Bengals in the 2010 draft. He led the team in sacks in 2012 with 12.5 and is widely considered the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus recently listed the top 10 defensive tackles in the league over the last five years. Even though Geno Atkins has only been in the NFL for three years, he still was listed at No. 2 on the list behind the 49ers' Justin Smith, a former Bengal.
2. Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals (+130.4)
The scary thing for all the future challengers here is that Atkins made it to second spot despite playing in only three seasons. Imagine where he'd be (first) and by how much (a lot) if he came into the league two years earlier?
After an encouraging rookie year that highlighted his potential, Atkins would go onto finish second overall in our defensive tackle rankings in his second campaign. But that was just a tip of the iceberg compared to his 2012 season where he didn't just top our rankings, but had a grade over twice as good as the next best defensive tackle. At the moment Atkins isn't just the best defensive tackle in football, he's a candidate for the best player out there.
Atkins has only one year left on his contract before he's set to become an unrestricted free agent, and you better believe the Bengals are going to do everything they can to make sure he's wearing orange and black for the rest of his career. Unfortunately, to keep him the Bengals will need to open up their wallets as wide as they can and throw sweaty wads of cash at him until he signs a contract.
The defensive line is the Bengals' strength due to the talent and depth at all four positions. Atkins is the best of the bunch and hopefully he'll be headlining the team's defense for many years to come.