According to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, the Bengals are hosting Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne for a pre-draft visit today. They’ve also hosted Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea for a visit, so it’s clear they’re at least considering an upgrade here early in this year’s draft.
This past season, Payne was a Second-Team All-SEC selection after posting 53 tackles, one sack, one interception and three pass break-ups for the national champion Crimson Tide. The 6’2”, 311-pounder would likely be a nose tackle in the 4-3 defense if the Bengals drafted him.
Putting Payne next to Atkins could cause a world of hurt for opposing offenses.
While it may not seem like a big need, the Bengals should be looking hard at defensive tackle early in this year’s draft. They have never found a good running mate for Geno Atkins in the interior of the defensive line, and it’s been a big hindrance to what otherwise could have been some elite defenses over the last decade.
While Domata Peko occupied that spot for a decade, he was never able to come close to complimenting what Atkins brings to the table, not to mention Peko and every other nose tackle during that stretch has been a liability more often than not.
Is this the year the Bengals make it a point to find another great defensive tackle to pair with Atkins? Perhaps Payne will be the answer.