(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.)
Name: Geno Atkins
Experience: 6 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys:The Cowboys and Bengals face off Oct. 9 at AT&T Stadium in the fifth game of the 2016 season. It'll mark only 12th meeting between the teams and the first since 2012. The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 7-4.
What's the Deal:In 2013 the Bengals signed Atkins to a $55 million contract for good reason: he's among the league's most dominant defensive players. The former fourth-round pick has averaged 7.1 sacks in his first six NFL seasons, including 11.5 last season for the 12-4 Bengals. He has made two All-Pro teams and four Pro Bowls, earning both honors in 2015.
Expect This: Atkins arguably will be the toughest challenge all season for Cowboys guards Zack Martin and La'el Collins. He plays the three technique position in Cincinnati's 4-3 defense, and at 6-1, 300 pounds, he has a special combination of speed and power that has helped him tally 43 career sacks and succeed in stopping the run.
Previous Meetings: In his only career game against Dallas in 2012, Atkins had four tackles and a sack in a 20-19 loss to the Cowboys in Cincinnati.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Undersized for an inside run stuffer, then has a quick first step. Will line up as a three-technique. Explosive suddenness in his body. Quick on inside twist stunts.
- Gets penetration and is disruptive. Hard man to block on the move. When he goes with the arm-over move, he puts the blocker out of position. Will stay square along the line of scrimmage.
- Plays off blocks. Doesn't often get hooked up. Finisher when he gets into position. Has the upper and lower body power to drive the blocker back into the pocket. Faces double teams the entire game.
- Quickness allows him to defeat blockers. Can make himself small and work through creases. Technique player. Knows how to play with his hands and spin to free himself. Plays with balance.
- Doesn't get knocked off his feet. Really does a nice job of chasing the ball from behind.
- Outstanding vision to find the ball. Not often fooled or out of position. Have to account for him every snap because of how disruptive he is.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.