Overall the AFC North did not play up to their preseason expectations. The division went 4-11-1 combined against the high octane NFC East. After placing three teams in the 2014 playoffs and two teams in the 2015 playoffs, Pittsburgh was the AFC North’s only postseason representative in 2016.
Nevertheless, several players posted fine seasons. Here are the AFC North division’s best players at each position in 2016:
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Not a banner year for any of the North’s quarterbacks, Big Ben earns the nod based off team success.
Running Back: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
Averaged a whopping 157 total yards from scrimmage per game with nine scores.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown, Steelers
After three straight seasons with over 1,200 receiving yards and ten touchdowns, Julio Jones is his only competition for best receiver in the NFL.
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Bengals
Was carrying Cincinnati’s offense and having his best season to date before injury struck.
Wide Receiver: Terrelle Pryor, Browns
Barely edged out Baltimore’s Mike Wallace, he was the Browns only offensive threat.
Tight End: Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Not a strong position in the division this season, Pitta was the most productive because of volume.
Offensive Tackle: Andrew Whitworth, Bengals
The veteran impending free agent is a model of pass blocking consistency.
Tackle: Joe Thomas, Browns
Too a small step back, but still one of the top tackles in the league.
Offensive Guard Guard: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
Simply the best blocker in the NFL.
Guard: Kevin Zeitler, Bengals
Zeitler posted a strong all around season in a contract year.
Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
Never dominant, Pouncey deserves respect for leading the best line in the division.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Ravens
Near perfect season is likely the best all time at the position.
Punter: Sam Koch, Ravens
Consistently above average with a knack for pinning opponents deep.
Returner: Alex Erickson, Bengals
Ran back the most kickoffs in the AFC for a 28-yard average.
Defensive End: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals
Second most sacks in the division with 15 batted passes to boot.
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Bengals
Arguably the most disruptive interior penetrator in the NFL, lead the division in sacks.
Defensive Tackle: Danny Shelton, Browns
Developing into one of the best nose tackles in the league.
Inside Linebacker: C.J. Mosley, Ravens
A force against the run and pass with a nose for the football.
Inside Linebacker: Ryan Shazier, Steelers
Made a bunch of impact plays, but missed a lot of tackles too.
Outside Linebacker: Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
Highly productive player regardless of his personality flaws.
Linebacker: Zachary Orr, Ravens
Worthy of this liberal positional alignment because he racked up 132 tackles while playing through a broken shoulder.
Cornerback: Jimmy Smith, Ravens
The best cover corner in the division was rarely challenged before injury ended his season early.
Cornerback: Dre Kirkpatrick, Bengals
Dramatic improvement in coverage allow Kirkpatrick to hold off Pittsburgh rookie Artie Burns.
Strong Safety: Eric Weddle, Ravens
The best DB in the division and excellent leader overcomes a lack of speed with elite instincts.
Free Safety: George Iloka, Bengals
Not much to choose from at safety, Iloka was the best of a mediocre group.
Head Coach: John Harbaugh, Ravens
Eight wins with the third most talented roster in the division shows Harbaugh did more with less.