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Is Geno Atkins A Future Star In The NFL?

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Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar is impressed enough with defensive tackle Geno Atkins, he nominated him as one of the league's defensive "soon-to-be stars". We couldn't agree more.

One way to project future sack leaders is to look at their "almost" stats — the hits and hurries that almost became quarterback sacks and still affect the passing game. In Atkins' case, the arrow is definitely trending up — in 2010, he had just three quarterback takedowns, but nine quarterback hits and 17.5 quarterback hurries, and each of those stats led the Bengals last year. The Georgia rookie is projected to take over at starting tackle opposite the always-dominant Domata Peko(notes), and the preseason performance I saw from him in 2010 has just blossomed into a skill set that could have Atkins as one of the league's most disruptive defensive tackles in a big hurry.

Atkins participated in 290 snaps on passing plays (only 63 against the run) and averaged a quarterback pressure during every 15.2 drop backs, according to Pro Football Focus. Though Atkins rate of getting to the quarterback during "almost sacks" wasn't even the best on the team. Frostee Rucker participated on 136 snaps during passing plays and averaged an "almost sack" once out of every 12.4 drop backs. I don't know about you, but of all the things I'm anticipating this year, it's actually not the offense, it's the defensive pass rush.