I hope each and everyone of you is staying safe and healthy right now. With the news from around the country likely weighing all of us down, I hope my attempt to provide something fun to read helps.
Now that we’re well into the month of June, it’s time for me to start up my Ranking the Room: AFC North series, where I take a deep dive into each position group for all four teams in the division and rank them from best to worst.
Today, I’ll take a look at quarterbacks in the AFC North.
Let’s get started.
1. Baltimore Ravens
For the first time in four years, dating back to when I first started this series, the Pittsburgh Steelers do not sit at No. 1. You can thank a season-ending injury and poor backup QB play for that. Plus, some guy named Lamar Jackson took the league by storm in 2019.
Jackson, at least to me, is forreal. We need to stop saying he’s a running back. The guy is a darn good quarterback who is tough to stop consistently. His 2019 season, which resulted in an MVP award, was real and should be a real concern for the entire league.
I’d like to see Jackson utilize his wide receivers a bit more in 2020, which should open up the field even more for Baltimore’s offense.
Behind Jackson, Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley provide Baltimore with average depth. RG3 showed at times in relief last season that he can be a steady presence.
Undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley is extremely intriguing in Baltimore’s system. He has a big arm and can really move. I was surprised to see him go undrafted out of Utah.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
While the Steelers fall from the top spot for the first time ever in this series, they don’t fall far. Maybe that has more to do with the rest of the division under center than Pittsburgh.
Ben Roethlisberger played just 6 quarters last season and wasn’t very good before missing the rest of the season following elbow surgery. That said, he finally got a lingering elbow injury fixed and had a long time to rest his arm. I fully believe he will be better than ever, just like Kevin Colbert believes.
Behind Big Ben, I’m not out on Mason Rudolph. He looked good before getting hurt against Baltimore. That shot he took from Earl Thomas seemed to sap any type of confidence he had leading up to that game.
Following that injury, Rudolph looked gun shy and overthought far too much in the pocket, which led to his benching for Duck Hodges. Hodges became a cult favorite, but he was far too reckless with the ball late in the season, costing Pittsburgh a couple of key games.
Paxton Lynch carries ideal size and good tools to work with, but he’s bounced around the league since going in the first round to Denver in 2016. I just can’t say he’s going to beat out Hodges at this point for QB3.
Overall, the depth chart is a concern behind Ben on paper, but I still believe with the experience gained last season, Rudolph and Hodges will be just fine if called upon in 2020.
3. Cleveland Browns
Last year was supposed to be “the year” for Baker Mayfield, in terms of astronomical leaps forward as a QB and superstar. That leap didn’t happen; in fact, he fell backwards, which led to the firing of Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey.
I still believe Mayfield is exceptionally talented and has all the tools, but he’s far too reckless with the football and showed zero trust in his offensive line last season (he was right not to; it was terrible).
This year, Mayfield has to show the flashes he did as a rookie to get the Browns’ new front office and coaching staff to believe in him as the man moving forward. Like I said, all the tools are there physically and mentally; he just needs to hone them.
Behind Mayfield, veteran Case Keenum is solid insurance for a QB battling himself mentally. Keenum has a ton of experience in new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system and is a similar QB to Mayfield in terms of style and size, so he should be able to help Mayfield adjust quickly.
Garrett Gilbert and rookie undrafted free agent Kevin Davidson will battle it out for the third QB job. I’m giving the edge to Davidson.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
This ranking is by no means a knock on Joe Burrow, whom I think is going to be a great building block for the Bengals for a long, long time. He’s Tony Romo 2.0. The problem is that there’s not a ton around Burrow, namely along the offensive line and on defense for him to carry Cincinnati right away.
It’s Burrow’s team already though, which is good for the Bengals. Growing pains will hurt, but look out down the line.
Behind Burrow the Bengals have done a poor job with insurance on the field and help in the room. Second-year pros Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala aren’t going to help Burrow adjust to head coach Zac Taylor’s scheme quickly, and they really won’t provide much insight from the sidelines like a veteran would.
2019 QB rooms rankings:
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cleveland Browns
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals