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Bengals hosting Da’Ron Payne for pre-NFL Draft visit

One of the top defensive tackles is visiting Cincinnati.

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Bengals are keeping tabs on some of the top defensive lineman in this year’s NFL Draft.

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.