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Bill Belichick really likes Geno Atkins

10.02.13 at 12:32 pm ET

FOXBORO — Well, if Bill Belichick makes a play for Geno Atkins when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season, we’ll know why.

Belichick fairly gushed over the play of the Cincinnati defensive tackle on Wednesday morning, comparing him to Hall of Famer John Randle and suggesting that if they held a do-over of the 2010 draft, Atkins — who was taken in the fourth round with the 120th overall selection — would be the first overall selection.

“He’€™d probably be the first pick in the draft,” Belichick said of the 25-year-old Atkins. “He was an athletic guy that you saw maybe as a sub rusher, a nickel sub rusher, but he’€™s way more than that. He’€™s a good one too.

“Everybody has trouble with him. You look at all the games last year and all the games this year, it doesn’€™t matter because they flip him, he plays on both guards, the centers slide to him. He’€™s seen plenty of different combinations and matched up against plenty of different players: big guards, quick guards, strong guards, athletic, however you want to put him, he gives them a lot of trouble.”

Belichick has a history of raving about opposing defensive players and then making a play for those individuals when they reach free agency, even if it takes a few years. (See Rosevelt Colvin and Tommy Kelly.) While Atkins won’t hit the market for a long time — he recently signed a five-year extension to stay with the Bengals — it’s easy to see why he’s drawn the attention of Belichick. Atkins, who has 2.5 sacks over the first four games of the 2013 season (after finishing last season with 12 sacks) is a 6-foot-1, 286-pound All Pro out of Georgia who has served as the unquestioned anchor of the Bengals defensive front since he arrived in 2010.

“This guy has some power rushes where he just takes linemen back, those guards back and it just looks like they’€™re on roller skates. He just walks them, literally, right back into the quarterback,” Belichick said. “He’€™s very quick. He can get the edge and work up or up-and-under on the guards. Then when they try to set deep or take those quick moves away from him, he can turn those into power moves and collapse the pocket. He can ruin a game — there’€™s no question the guy can ruin a game by myself.

“Every play, you can’€™t get away from him either. There aren’€™t many plays you can run where you can say, ‘€˜We don’€™t really have to block the three-technique.’€™ You have to block him and he’€™s a factor in the running game, he’€™s a factor in the passing game. You try to throw screens and stuff like that, he’€™s quick and fast, he’€™ll run those plays down. The guy is a really good player.”

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