2022 preseason All-AFC North Workforce: Joe Burrow edges out Lamar Jackson, defenses loaded with expertise

August 25, 2022

Over the following two weeks, we’ll unveil our preseason All-Division groups, as is our annual custom round this time of 12 months. As all the time, the rosters had been compiled largely by a panel of 1, although there was important enter from the writing and editorial workers at CBSSports.com after I took an preliminary run on the rosters alone. 

We started on Tuesday with the AFC East. At this time, it is the AFC North, after which we’ll transfer by way of the remainder of the convention this week. Subsequent week, it is on to the NFC. With out additional ado…

Offensive ability positions

QB: Joe Burrow (CIN)
RB: Nick Chubb (CLE)
WR: Ja’Marr Chase (CIN), Tee Higgins (CIN), Diontae Johnson (PIT)
TE: Mark Andrews (BAL)
FLEX: Chase Claypool (PIT)

It was a two-man battle between Burrow and Lamar Jackson for the quarterback slot on this division. Whereas Jackson’s ceiling is as excessive or larger than any quarterback within the NFL (as evidenced by his successful MVP and dominating the league in 2019), Burrow is probably going higher positioned for fulfillment in 2022 as a result of plethora of pass-catching choices the Bengals have equipped him with, in addition to an upgraded offensive line in entrance of him. It is like splitting hairs when selecting between two of the sport’s finest, however that is what you need to do when you may solely decide one for a roster like this.

You can also make an argument for Najee Harris, Joe Mixon, and even JK Dobbins at working again right here. However Pittsburgh’s offensive line and the seemingly general poor high quality of the offense pushed us away from Harris; Mixon’s considerably restricted function in Cincinnati’s offense pushed us away from him (he seemingly will not play on apparent passing downs once more); and Dobbins’ torn ACL pushed us away from him. That leaves Chubb, who, whereas additionally seemingly in a restricted function, continues to be arguably the most effective pure runner within the league. We’ll take that on our workforce. 

Selecting a good finish was simple. Whereas Pat Freiermuth and David Njoku have an opportunity to shine in bigger roles, Andrews is already among the many best gamers at his place. Coming off profession highs in catches and receiving yards (and enjoying time), he ought to stick as Jackson’s high passing-game choice, and have a shot at one other All-Professional season. It was additionally simple to place Chase and Higgins on this workforce. The highest two choices for Burrow, they will be actually rattling good for a protracted rattling time. Chase simply put collectively among the best rookie seasons in NFL historical past, and Higgins, in Yr 2, topped 70 catches and 1,000 yards in simply 14 video games. After these two, it got here right down to a alternative between Johnson, Claypool, Rashod Bateman, Amari Cooper, and one other working again. We went with the 2 Steelers receivers as a result of catch and big-play ceilings they’ve proven thus far of their careers. 

Offensive line

OT: Ronnie Stanley (BAL), Jedrick Wills (CLE)
G: Joel Bitonio (CLE), Alex Cappa (CIN)
C: Ted Karras (CIN)

Stanley has missed the higher a part of the previous two seasons, however when final wholesome, he was an All-Professional-caliber participant. The guess right here is on a wholesome season. There are a selection of different good tackles to select from, together with Jack Conklin, La’el Collins, and Jonah Williams, however we’ll go together with Wills proceed to emerge as a high quality starter on the left facet of Cleveland’s offensive line. 

Talking of high quality starters on the left facet of Cleveland’s line: Bitonio was an absolute no-brainer right here. After which, we went with a pair of Cincinnati’s offensive line imports from this offseason in Cappa and Karras, who ought to solidify the inside and proper facet in entrance of Burrow. Baltimore’s Tyler Linderbaum might take the middle spot away earlier than lengthy, although. 

Defensive entrance

EDGE: T.J. Watt (PIT), Myles Garrett (CLE)
IDL: Cameron Heyward (PIT), Calais Campbell (BAL)
LB: Logan Wilson (CIN), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (CLE)

Watt and Garrett could be the 2 finest edge rushers within the NFL. It was extraordinarily simple to pick out them for this roster. Heyward stays a particularly efficient — and underrated — game-wrecker from the inside of the defensive position. He is made 5 consecutive Professional Bowls and 4 All-Professional groups (three first, one second) in that stretch, notching a minimum of eight sacks in 4 of these 5 seasons. Even at age 33, he ought to have one other wonderful 12 months. Campbell is getting up into his late 30s and not performs 80-90 p.c of defensive snaps, however he can nonetheless wreak havoc as a heavy rotational participant. He is probably the most versatile defensive linemen within the league with the flexibility to hurry from inside and outside, and play the cross and the run at a particularly excessive stage. As long as he stays wholesome, he will produce in an enormous means. 

Wilson stepped into a bigger function in his second NFL season, and was a really stable piece in the course of a Cincinnati protection that carried out at a a lot larger stage than many anticipated. He ought to proceed to progress now that he is received much more expertise. Owusu-Koramoah is without doubt one of the most versatile linebackers within the NFL, capable of do all the things from rush the passer to cowl vast receivers within the slot. He’ll be an enormous chess piece for Joe Woods’ protection, which has among the best back-seven teams within the league. 

Defensive backfield

CB: Marlon Humphrey (BAL), Denzel Ward (CLE), Greg Newsome II (CLE)
SAF: Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT), Marcus Williams (BAL)
FLEX: Jessie Bates III (CIN)

The defensive backs on this division are actually rattling good. Humphrey missed a while final 12 months however when wholesome, he’s among the many finest man cowl corners within the NFL. He’ll be a foundational piece for brand spanking new defensive coordinator Mike McDonald. Ward and Newsome, in the meantime, type among the best one-two nook punches within the league already. Ward received his huge payday already, and if Newsome’s rookie season was any indication, he’ll be getting his personal earlier than lengthy. 

At security, there’s a lot high-level expertise right here that gamers like Grant Delpit, John Johnson III, Chuck Clark, and Vonn Bell barely acquired consideration. Fitzpatrick and Williams already received paid, and Bates is on the franchise tag, as a result of they’re all among the many small handful of best safeties within the league. Fitzpatrick stays elite in protection, and is without doubt one of the league’s finest defensive backs at forcing turnovers. Williams is the prototype center-field security, being dropped right into a loaded secondary. And Bates, even in a considerably down season final 12 months, was extremely efficient. In what is basically a contract 12 months, he ought to be at his finest this season. 


Okay: Justin Tucker (BAL)
P: Corey Bojorquez (CLE)
RET: Gunner Olszewski (PIT)

I will not lie… I requested our resident kicking professional (John Breech) who he thinks are the most effective kickers and punters in every division, and replica/pasted these names onto every All-Division workforce. Olszewski was an All-Professional in 2020 and did not drop off an excessive amount of final season. It is cheap to count on one other good season within the return recreation, even on a brand new workforce. 

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