The Cincinnati Bengals finally cracked the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017 when Geno Atkins checked in at No. 68. The list is created with player influence by the NFL.
This is the second-straight year in which Atkins has made the annual ranking of the NFL’s top players by the players. He came in at 29th overall in 2016 after failing to make it in 2015. Atkins was voted 48th in 2013.
“Monster. He’s another monster,” said Colts cornerback Darius Butler of Atkins.
Atkins, who just finished his seventh NFL season, started all 16 games in 2016 and finished with 32 total tackles, nine sacks, and was ranked sixth among interior defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus (accounts for 4-3 and 3-4 defensive tackles. His nine sacks were the most by any defensive tackle in the league this season.
“He’s powerful for his size. That’s what people don’t understand,” said Texans safety Corey Moore. “He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s very good. He’s someone that you really have to gameplan for.”
Atkins’ 2016 season wasn’t much different from his 2015 season, in which he started in all 16 games while notching 11 sacks, which was the second highest single-season total in his career. He also had 42 total tackles and a forced fumble while being a big reason why the Bengals ranked second in scoring defense and fifth in opponent passer rating (78.9).
That helped Atkins earn All-Pro recognition and a spot in the 2016 Pro Bowl. He may have missed out on the All-Pro team this past season, but he did earn a spot in the 2017 Pro Bowl.
“Pound for pound, maybe the best three-technique in the league,” said Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. “Not a lot of ego there. Just plays hard and consistent. That’s the kind of guy you love to get behind and cheer for.”
It’s pretty ridiculous that Atkins somehow managed to take a 39-spot drop in this ranking. It shows just how obscure and inaccurate these rankings can be, which isn’t surprising since they’re done by players who probably don’t watch every snap of every game, making it impossible for them to give an accurate ranking.
Frankly, Atkins is closer to being a top-10 player than the 68th-best.
“Geno is a tremendous inside rusher,” said former Bengals lineman Andrew Whitworth. “You know when you’re playing against him, leverage and the ability to get down there with him is important.”
Other honors Atkins earned this offseason include being named to the 2016 All-AFC team by the Pro Football Writers of America. He was named the Week 14 AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Bengals’ win over the Browns.
Atkins is just 29-years-old and signed through the 2018 season. As long as he's healthy, there's no reason to doubt he'll keep playing at a high level, which means the Bengals' defense should continue to be, at the very least, a respectable unit. Thanks to the upgrades they got at defensive end this offseason, the defense should get back to being dominant in 2017, so long as Atkins is playing at a high level.
It’s nice Atkins received some recognition here, but, he’s ranked far too low.