As we creep closer and closer to August, we’re further along in the Ranking the Rooms: AFC North series here at Steelers Depot.
After ranking the safeties in the AFC North in the last installment, today I turn to the specialists. That might sound boring to the reader, but specialists are incredibly important when it comes to the outcome of games.
It’s pretty clear who is No. 1 and No. 2 in the AFC North, but 3 and 4 were much harder to rank.
Let’s dive in.
1. Baltimore Ravens
There’s no better kicker in the NFL than Justin Tucker, so it’s silly to even try to make a case for anyone else ranking above the Ravens in the AFC North.
Tucker is pretty much automatic from midfield and in, and continues to be the best kicker in football, both in terms of accuracy and strength. Punter Sam Koch puts up numbers each and every year, while excelling at direction kicks to help pin opponents deep against a strong Baltimore defense.
Long snapper Morgan Cox is back for another year at long snapper, giving the Ravens arguably the best trio of specialists in the NFL, bar none.
Baltimore did bring in a couple of rookies in kicker Nick Vogel and punter Dom Maggio to try and create some semblance of competition in camp.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
It was great to see Chris Boswell bounce back in a big way in 2019. Boswell returned to a consistent scoring threat for the Steelers, putting points on the board all season when the offense stalled, which it did often.
Boswell doesn’t have the biggest leg, but he’s accurate and has underrated power for the position. Here’s hoping he continues to fly under the radar yet put up big seasons.
Punter Jordan Berry simply isn’t getting it done at this point, but there’s no real option to turn to for the Steelers. It’s really his job to lose in 2020 again. That said, I just can’t see rookie punter Corliss Waitman pushing Berry.
Long snapper Kameron Canaday returns with a new contract in hand, ensuring the Steelers have continuity on special teams.
3. Cleveland Browns
After drafting top kicker Austin Seibert out of Oklahoma last year, the Browns were handsomely rewarded as the rookie converted 25 of 29 field goals, providing the Browns much-needed stability in the kicking game.
Cleveland also turned to Aussie-rules punter Jamie Gillan last season, and boy did he come through. Gillan has a massive leg, allowing the Browns to flip the field. He struggled with consistency throughout the season, but when he was on his huge leg helped the Browns out in big situations.
Veteran long snapper Charley Hughlett returns for another year. He’s solid, if unspectacular.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Randy Bullock fell off just a bit last year, pushing the Bengals down to the basement in this list. Bullock still has a strong leg, but his accuracy wanes at times, leaving much to be desired.
Punter Kevin Huber continues to be a steady presence at punter, but he’s getting up there in age and his yards-per-punt is declining.
Long snapper Clark Harris has quietly put together a 12-year career that has consistently seen him considered one of the top long snappers in the game year after year.
Last year’s rankings:
- Baltimore Ravens
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns