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Steelers HC Mike Tomlin believes Patrick Queen “might be the best linebacker in the AFC North”

The second-year pro is viewed very highly by the Ravens’ bitter rival.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Heading into his second year in the league after a standout rookie season, expectations were high for Baltimore Ravens’ inside linebacker Patrick Queen.

After some early struggles, the 2020 first-round pick has elevated his play during the second half of the season. In the eyes of the head coach of the Ravens’ archrival, he is the cream of the crop in the division at his position.

Tomlin claims that Queen has “really emerged” in his second year and “his tape shows that.”

While he has started every game this season, Queen saw a reduction in playing time from Weeks 5-12 — a stretch where he didn’t play more than 75 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in a single game.

The time he spent in a reduced but more focused role helped him turn his season around and he has played at least 85 percent of the total defensive snaps in four of the team’s last five games. Queen currently leads the Ravens in total (93), solo (66), and assisted (27) tackles as well as tackles for loss (10). He has also recorded two sacks, a pass deflection, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and three quarterback hits.

Tomlin is a defensive coach at heart and highlighted some key areas where he has seen Queen make the most significant strides.

“He appears to be doing the things that come with the position,” he said. “Being a hub of communication, adjusting the front, moving the front, getting people lined up, communicating with people in the backend, being a guy for all circumstances and situations.”

The Ravens drafted Queen with the expectation that he would be an every-down field general in the middle of their defense. According to the well-trained eyes of their respected adversary, he is well on his way. The praise is especially lofty and somewhat surprising coming from Tomlin considering some of the other talented players at the position around the division, including on his own team.

The Steelers have stalwart veteran Joe Schobert and 2019 Top-10 pick Devin Bush. The Cincinnati Bengals have ascending second-year talent of their own in Logan Wilson, and the Cleveland Browns have standout rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The latter is constantly compared to and viewed as better than Queen by some, even though both film and statistical metrics suggest support the contrary.