AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals OT Jonah Williams‘ rookie year ended before it even really began with a shoulder injury last year during OTA’s. Williams was able to return to the practice field late in the year but Cincinnati still hasn’t seen its first-round pick from 2019 and projected starting left tackle this year on the field. That hasn’t cooled Bengals OL coach Jim Turner‘s belief on what the team has in Williams, though. 

“You don’t have to go far to see how character can help our team. Bringing him in here makes a difference for us that way at left tackle. He’s what you want when it comes to character,” Turner said via Geoff Hobson of the team website. “Will he be a great player? We project he’ll be a heck of a player or we wouldn’t have brought him in here in the first round. If you watch how he performs and how dedicated he is and how smart he is. All the pieces fit.”

  • Redskins UDFA TE Thaddeus Moss says the Bengals and Patriots were also interested in signing him but he chose Washington because they called first. (JP Finlay)

Browns

  • BrownsZone.com’s Scott Petrak writes if Browns QB Baker Mayfield plays more like he did his rookie season, exercising the fifth-year option next May for Mayfield won’t even be a question.
  • If he doesn’t, that could make it tricky for new GM Andrew Berry given the Browns would guarantee Mayfield’s option entirely when they exercise it as opposed to just for injury. 
  • Petrak mentions the Browns have enough depth at defensive tackle that they could consider trading DT Larry Ogunjobi if they got the right offer since he’s also entering the final year of his contract. 
  • If fifth-round C Nick Harris is impressive, Petrak adds it could make Browns C J.C. Tretter expendable despite just signing a three-year, $32.5 million extension last year. 

Steelers

  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly says the Steelers best options at nose tackle to replace Javon Hargrave are veteran Daniel McCullers and DL Tyson Alualu, although the latter has rarely played nose. 
  • Kaboly pointed out Pittsburgh used a nose on about 25 percent of their defensive snaps and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert mentioned the traditional nose tackle is de-emphasized in the modern NFL: “A traditional 3-4 nose tackle, again, I don’t want to say it’s dying, but it’s less and less of base defense. When you’re in a defense 75 percent of the time, different sub-packages, I don’t know if anyone has a base defense even though you do say you’re a 3-4.”
  • Colbert is optimistic seventh-round DT Carlos Davis could eventually develop into a role similar to what Hargrave played: “Base defense, I’m sure he will line up at the nose, and then in the sub-packages, he’ll be an inside rusher. Again, when you’re running 4.79 at that size and Coach mentioned he threw the shot and discus at Nebraska. [He’s] very athletic.”
  • If Pittsburgh wanted to bolster the position, Kaboly lists DT Damon Harrison, DL Corey Liuget, DT Mike Daniels and DL Xavier Williams as some available free-agent options. 
  • The Steelers could also potentially swing a trade for Jaguars DT Abry Jones or Bills DT Star Lotulelei, per Kaboly.
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