Most Intriguing Players in the AFC North for 2019
By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)
Special to Pro Football Guru
Welcome back to the latest series by the team of “Voigt Julie” and “Yours Truly.” With the 2019 NFL regular season roughly two and half months away, it’s a division-by-division look at each club’s most intriguing player. It started with the AFC East, where the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have won a league-record 10 straight division titles. Then onto the NFC East, where the Dallas Cowboys are coming off capturing their third division title since 2014.
Now comes a look at the AFC North. A season ago, the Baltimore Ravens won six of their final seven games to overcome a 4-5 start and win their first division title since 2012. They edged out the Pittsburgh Steelers, who missed the playoffs after opening the year 7-2-1. And there’s a lot of talk surrounding the Cleveland Browns.
Here’s Part 3 of the series (teams are in order of 2018 finish):
WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
VI: There is no surprise that a man nicknamed “Hollywood” would be one of the most intriguing players this coming season. Not only will he be a player to watch in terms of the Ravens’ offense but by the entire NFL as well. During his time at the University of Oklahoma, Brown was explosive. But he has also dealt with a foot injury that caused him to miss the NFL Scouting Combine and much of his new team’s OTAs. With patience, could Brown emerge as the go-to guy for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson?
ILB Devin Bush
BE: For the seventh straight year dating back to 2013, the franchise invested a first-round pick on a defensive player. The Steelers moved up 10 spots in April to grab the former University of Michigan playmaker. The Pittsburgh defense continues to be erratic despite the final rankings the last few years. Bush is a rangy defender that hopes to make up the absence of inspirational Ryan Switzer.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
VI: One of the biggest moves this offseason was general manager John Dorsey acquiring Beckham, Jr. from the New York Giants. It cost the Browns a hefty price but the club is adding a deep threat to the offense to team with fellow wideout Jarvis Landry. And with the wow factor on display at minicamp, OBJ apparently has his eyes on the prize. Teaming up with a vastly-improving team led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, there’s no doubt that the Browns will be just as intriguing themselves.
RB Joe Mixon
BE: For the first time since 2002, someone other than Marvin Lewis will be the head coach of the Bengals. Former Rams’ quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor takes over in the Queen City. Somewhat quietly, Mixon ran for 1,168 yards and eight scores and finished tied for third with 43 catches (296 yards, 1 touchdown). He finished with 280 touches from scrimmage and that workload could increase this season.
Julie Voigt (JulieNoted_PFG) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @pfgVIBE. Julie is also the Colts’ reporter for OurTurf Football while Russell writes for FanSided and NFL Spin Zone.