The start of training camp is now just days away for teams across the NFL, with preseason and the regular season not far down the line. While there are some potential acquisitions that could still take place, most major moves have already transpired in free agency and the draft.
Therefore, we have a good idea of what the AFC North teams’ rosters will look like in 2022. Let’s break down where each position group stacks up within the division, this time examining every team’s offensive line core.
Projected starters: Jedrick Wills Jr., Joel Bitonio, Nick Harris, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin
Depth: Chris Hubbard, James Hudson III, Ethan Pocic, Michael Dunn
Even after losing veteran center J.C. Tretter this offseason, the Browns’ still boast one of the league’s top offensive line units — and the best in the division on paper. Nick Harris will replace Tretter in the middle of the five-man front.
Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller comprise arguably the best guard duo in the NFL. Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin are a top-end tackle duo, also, although they were both limited by injuries in 2021. The Browns don’t necessarily have amazing depth, but their starting group is good enough in both pass and run blocking that they can’t rank any lower than No. 1 here.
Projected starters: Ronnie Stanley, Tyre Phillips, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses
Depth: Patrick Mekari, Ju’Waun James, Daniel Faalele, Ben Powers, Ben Cleveland
The Ravens added three new offensive lineman this offseason. This group projects to be much-improved from last season with better health and improved tackle play. Rookie Tyler Linderbaum will be a Day 1 starter at center and veteran Morgan Moses will solidify the right tackle position.
With Patrick Mekari reverting to a backup role and Ju’Waun James being available, the Ravens now have solid depth across the board, too. The biggest underlying question is the health of Ronnie Stanley. Stanley’s availability and performance in 2022 will determine the ceiling and floor of the offensive line as a whole.
Projected starters: Jonah Williams, Jackson Carman, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, La’el Collins
Depth: Trey Hill, Isaiah Prince, Hakeem Adeniji, Cordell Volson, D’Ante Smith
Subpar offensive line play was the Bengals’ achilles heel in 2021. It was no surprise, then, to see them immediately address this weakness in free agency. The Bengals signed a trio of veteran offensive lineman in Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, who enter the season as projected starters from center to right tackle.
While these newcomers may not catapault from Cincinnati’s offensive line from the bottom tier of the NFL to elite status overnight, they should bring some much-needed stability in front of Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon. Burrow was sacked 51 times last season, more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Jonah Williams’ growth at left tackle and the competition at left guard, which rising sophomore Jackson Carman could win, are key developments to watch.
Projected starters: Dan Moore Jr., Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, James Daniels, Chukwuma Okafor
Depth: Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, J.C. Hassenauer, Chaz Green
The Steelers’ offensive line too was their achillies’ heel at times at times last season. They struggled to consistently keep Ben Roethlisberger upright and provide rushing lanes for Najee Harris.
Entering the 2022 season, the Steelers have the least-expensive offensive line of any team in the league. They re-signed Chukwuma Okafor to a three-year deal this offseason, who will return as the team’s starting right tackle, and signed James Daniels to a three-year deal also.
Trai Turner, who started all 17 games for Pittsburgh in 2021, signed with the Washington Commanders. The Steelers have a young group and will be relying a lot on significant development from the likes of Dan Moore Jr., Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green. Without it, they project to have a bottom-tier unit and the worst in the division.
What are your thoughts on this order? Share your own below and join in on the conversation in the comments!