D.J. Reader was a huge surprise to Bengal fans because the narrative is usually different. When Bengals fans heard the news of this signing, the fans started to believe. Usually, a player like Reader doesn’t sign to a losing organization but they got a big enough deal on the table. His deal was 4-years worth 53 million dollars which is decent for a prime defensive tackle.
D.J. Reader Carries Extreme Upside
The main aspect you have to account for is Reader is only 25. He had some decent seasons with the Houston Texans, but last season was his breakout season. Last season he had 22 hurries and hit the quarterback 11 times. He also played the most snaps with 700. He is beginning his prime and playing alongside Geno Atkins will only help him more.
Reader has a very quick first step. If he wins the hand battle to the weak side shoulder, he will gain the leverage to bull rush to the quarterback. His hands are very quick and his placement is perfect. He creates a lot of double teams which can’t happen because of Geno Atkins on the other side. He understands his role which is creating enough havoc along the trenches.
The main goal is to improve on getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. On the other hand, their run defense continued to be a problem which led to their defense being ranked dead last. With Reader, you added both a pass rusher and a very talented run stopper.
Offenses have to make sure they get a hit on Reader before jumping to the linebacker because he will always beat man-to-man blocking schemes. Now with the addition of Reader, offenses have to design their runs around both Reader and Atkins. If you run it toward Atkins, Reader has the athleticism to go around the weak side and catch up to the play. He is dynamic on the strong side and the weak side of a running play.
The Bengals upgraded on both aspects of defense. They improved the run stopping abilities and the pressure on the quarterback with one player. The Bengals still need to fill linebacker holes and some depth in the draft. Once everything gets addressed within the next two years, this team could be playoff competitive again.
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