AFC North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers


  •’s Dan Labbe looks at the Browns’ projected depth chart on defense, starting at defensive end with Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, the latter who Cleveland appears to be content with going into 2020. 
  • Labbe mentions Browns DE Adrian Clayborn received a multi-year deal, which was not common from the team in free agency, indicating the team is confident in him as a rotational player. He also says former third-round DE Chad Thomas had some flashes as a rotational player. 
  • On paper, the Browns’ group at defensive tackle of Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson, Andrew Billings and third-round rookie Jordan Elliott is strong.
  • However, Labbe points out Ogunjobi is in a contract year and Richardson will carry a $13 million cap hit in 2021 at the age of 30 — $12 million of which could be saved in a release. 
  • Currently, Labbe says LBs Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki, fifth and third-round picks in 2019, are the Browns’ projected starters at inside linebacker. Wilson started several games last year, Takitaki saw much less playing time. 
  • At cornerback, Labbe highlights Denzel Ward as a player who could establish himself as one of the NFL’s best corners, while 2019 second-round CB Greedy Williams should improve from his rookie growing pains. 
  • Labbe projects free-agent addition Kevin Johnson as the team’s starting nickel. While veteran Browns CB Terrance Mitchell was seen as an outside corner by the previous coaching staff, Labbe thinks he could offer an alternative to either Williams outside or Johnson inside. 
  • To round out the roster at cornerback, Labbe mentions Donnie Lewis Jr., a seventh-round pick who spent his rookie year in 2019 on the practice squad, and UDFA A.J. Green as two names to watch. 
  • Labbe writes that while it would be somewhat disappointing if Browns second-round S Grant Delpit wasn’t a starter as a rookie, Cleveland has other options behind him and Karl Joseph with Andrew Sendejo, Sheldrick Redwine and J.T. Hassell


A lot will change for Ravens fourth-round G Ben Bredeson as he transitions from playing college football at Michigan to joining the NFL. But one crucial aspect that won’t change for Bredeson is his head coach’s last name, as he played for Ravens HC John Harbaugh‘s brother, Jim Harbaugh, for four years in school. 

“You can definitely see a lot of glaring similarities between the two,” Bredeson said via Clifton Brown of the Ravens website. “The way the playbook is set up, the way the program is being run, their mannerisms; a lot of them are the same. It’s comforting for me knowing that I’m still in the Harbaugh family.”

  • The Athletic’s Jay Glazer mentions Ravens DC Don Martindale as a strong candidate for a head coaching job in 2021. 


The Steelers haven’t been shy about their belief that QB Ben Roethlisberger could be even better this year following a season-ending elbow injury, hinting the 38-year-old Roethlisberger’s arm could be rejuvenated after finally having the issue come to a head in 2019. At a throwing session with his receivers in Pittsburgh, Steelers WR Ryan Switzer backed that assertion up, saying he could hear the ball cutting through the air and his hands were feeling the effects of catching Roethlisberger’s passes. 

“Man, he let it rip,” Switzer said via the Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “There was no restraint, no hesitancy, he was just out there. He has been throwing like that for a while and, in my opinion at least, getting out there on that field for the first time and throwing full-speed routes was refreshing. The control factor was taken out of it. He was out there and he was throwing. Did some off-schedule stuff. No restraints. He threw everything — across his body. Everything.”

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