While it appears his time with the Cincinnati Bengals is over, there’s no question Geno Atkins will go down as one of the best to ever play for the franchise.
At the height of his career, Atkins was arguably the NFL’s best defensive lineman and a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Though a torn ACL suffered in 2013 threatened to derail that, Atkins would eventually get back to his All-Pro form and will now hope to contend for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday.
Lest we forget about Atkins’ overall impact on the Bengals, who had never been to three-straight playoffs when he got here in 2010. He went on to become a key member of five-straight playoff trips Cincinnati went on from 2011-15, easily one of the most enjoyable stretches in franchise history.
And he did all of this as a fourth-round pick in 2010, making him arguably the biggest draft steal in franchise history. While that can be strongly debated with guys like Ken Riley (sixth round) and Lemar Parrish (seventh round) being selected later in their respective drafts, there’s no debating Atkins is one of the best draft picks in recent memory for the Bengals, and in the entire NFL for that matter.
So to no surprise, when Pro Football Focus picked the best value picks for all 32 NFL teams since 2006, Atkins was the easy choice for Cincinnati.
Andrew Whitworth deserves a shoutout here as well, but Atkins was drafted later on and arguably had a higher peak. A member of a 2010 draft class that also featured Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, it was Atkins who enjoyed the longest sustained success of the bunch, averaging just under 58 pressures a season for the first 10 years of his career with three straight seasons of 70.0-plus from 2015 to 2017.