Geno Atkins has evolved into the best defensive tackle pass rusher in the game. He has the sack total of a defensive end and the run stopping ability that you would expect from a defensive tackle. Atkins accumulated 12.5 regular season sacks, 39 solo tackles, and 14 assisted tackles. In sack comparison, his 12.5 sacks this season are nearly twice as many as Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh, who has seven. He has racked up 23 sacks in his three year career while playing in every single game since he was drafted. To go along with his sacks, he has six forced fumbles while recovering two of them. In one word, he is dominant.
There were some draft scouts who wouldn’t have predicted Atkins’s success and actually doubted his abilities. As a fourth-round pick out of Georgia in 2010, Atkins came in with a chip on his shoulder.
“He’s undersized as a defensive tackle lacking adequate height and bulk. Doesn’t have the power to consistently hold up at the point of attack against the run and is overpowered by bigger blockers. Must become more consistent with his hand use.”
“Undersized and lacks the ideal bulk you look for … Is not stout at the point of attack … Will never be a great run defender … Has trouble taking on and shedding blockers … Mediocre tackler … Stamina may be an issue.”
It can easily be said that Atkins has put all of his doubters to rest. There are no issues with his motor and certainly no issues with him taking plays off. He slipped to the fourth round in the draft and has played like a first overall pick. Sign him long term, don’t play games. Keep him in a positive mindset and do not low ball him. He deserves to be paid like the best d-tackle in the game because he is the best.
The following quotes are a little more accurate.
“Atkins (6-1, 286) came to Mobile viewed as an undersized lineman who would struggle matching up against much bigger NFL guards. But after an excellent week of practice and a strong showing in the game, we are confident he has eliminated those doubts. He consistently showed the rare quickness and explosiveness to shoot gaps and blow up plays in the backfield. As a smaller tackle, he shocked many NFL people with his strength against much bigger blockers. Atkins’ strong Senior Bowl will move him into the second round. If he can sustain his performance in spring workouts, he could move into the bottom of the first round.”
“In the right scheme, he could turn into a superstar. He’s a great one-gap penetrator with top-notch quickness and burst. An important note is that he grades out very well, but because of his size he might be overlooked and drafted later than he deserves. He doesn’t have a very high bust factor and he will make whatever team drafts him happy. We believe, that just like his father (Gene Atkins, Sr.), he could play in the NFL for a very long time.”