Ndamukong Suh and Geno Atkins took different paths to Sunday's matchup

Posted Oct 17, 2013

Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Geno Atkins were separated by 118 picks in the 2010 draft

Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh and Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins took dissimilar paths to Sunday’s matchup at Ford Field.

Suh was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and was an All Pro performer his very first season in the league.

Atkins, a fourth-round pick out of Georgia taken 118 picks after Suh, made a much smaller impact as a rookie with 16 tackles and three sacks in 16 games.

"Suh was a beast, he was the best defensive player in the 2010 draft," Atkins said in a conference call this week. "Looking at that, I can understand he went first.

"I think a lot of people also look at the tangibles – me being 6-foot-2, about 300 pounds, I’m not the prototypical size of a defensive tackle, so I think that kind of scared people off, but once I got to the league, I just made the best of my opportunity."

That he has, and Sunday in Detroit, fans will be treated to the two top defensive tackles in the NFL right now trying to keep their respective teams in first place.

"I definitely have an ultimate respect for Geno," Suh said. "Actually have known about him since he was down in Georgia playing. I knew he was a stout defensive tackle.

"He’s obviously been able to translate what he did in college to the pros, which is what I wanted to strive to do when I came in the 2010 draft as well."

Lions veteran guard Rob Sims has played against both Suh and Atkins and says both players bring a little something different to the table.

"Geno, with his power, is pretty much unmatched, in my opinion," Sims said. "Geno’s leverage creates a problem.

"Suh is more complete all the way around. He’s got a little bit of everything. He can beat you with his quickness. Geno relies more on his bull rush and his power. Suh can give you a little bit of everything.

"They are two of the best and it’s going to be a long day."

Both Suh and Atkins are two-time Pro Bowlers in their first three seasons. Atkins has four sacks this year playing the three technique. Suh has 2.5 sacks as a versatile defensive tackle playing both inside and outside.

"I think we’re both very powerful athletes, very quick and fast," Atkins said. "He’s a little bit taller and bigger than me, but I think we have some similar things that we do.

"We can both overpower offensive guards and use our speed and quickness to get up the field and penetrate and disrupt the ball."

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who spent three seasons as Atkins’ teammate at Georgia, knows exactly how disruptive Atkins can be.

"Geno is a physical guy," he said. "Obviously, I played with him in college. He’s an extremely strong guy. He plays with great leverage and quickness. He has a lot of tools to beat people. He had 12.5 sacks last year and he has four this year already. He’s playing at a Pro Bowl level."

Both players are playing at a Pro Bowl caliber level through six games and both offensive lines will have their hands full come Sunday.