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, starting with the most important position of all — quarterback.
Depth chart: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
Lamar Jackson is coming off an up-and-down 2021 campaign. Before missing the final five games of the season with an ankle injury, Jackson had thrown a career-worst 13 interceptions, and his quarterback rating (87.0) was the lowest since his rookie year.
Jackson started the season on a torrid pace and was well on his way to shattering previous highs in passing yardage. Then he hit a bit of a midseason slump before suffering an injury in Week 13.
Still, from a pure talent perspective and from what we’ve seen from both players at the peak of their powers, giving Jackson a slight nod over Joe Burrow is fair. The 2019 unanimous MVP is due for a bounce-back season with a clean bill of health for himself, as well a healthier offensive line and running back room around him.
Depth chart: Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen
Whereas Jackson’s 2021 performance was subpar for his standards, Joe Burrow took a huge step forward in his sophomore season. En-route to winning Comeback Player of the Year, Burrow threw for over 4,600 yards with 34 touchdowns. Most importantly, he led the Bengals on an improbable Super Bowl run that fell just short of winning the championship.
In light of this, Burrow has a strong argument to be called the best quarterback in the division — an argument many would make right now. The argument for giving Jackson a slight edge, though, is that he’s more a more dynamic athlete and can do more with less talent around him.
The gap that previously existed prior to last season has definitely closed significantly, though.
Depth chart: Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph
No longer is Ben Roethlisberger under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 2022 will be a year of transition at quarterback for the Steelers, as the team signed Mitchell Trubisky and drafted Kenny Pickett this offseason.
Trubisky will begin training camp and the preseason as the projected starter, but Pickett will have every chance to take the job from him. Trubisky has proven to be an inconsistent starting quarterback but could perform better with the Steelers’ infrastructure around him than he did in Chicago.
For all his shortcomings, Trubisky has at least proven to be a mobile threat and is eight games over .500 in his career as a starter.
Depth chart: Deshaun Watson*, Jacoby Brissett, Joshua Dobbs
The Browns are the most difficult team to rank in this segment — for obvious reasons. If the recently-acquired Deshaun Watson were a sure bet to starting (and playing, let alone) this season, Cleveland might have a case for No. 1 or No. 2. Watson is that talented of a quarterback.
Much is still up in the air regarding his status, though, and recent signs are pointing to a significant suspension being likely. Presuming Watson will miss a good portion, if not all of the 2022 season, that leaves Jacoby Brissett as the team’s starter and Joshua Dobbs backing him up.
That’s a bit of an uninspiring 1-2 dynamic. Brissett has shown he can be a capable starter at times in recent years, but he doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table. Dobbs is nothing more than a backup. This is the Browns’ situation now, though, after they officially parted ways with Baker Mayfield.
What are your thoughts on this order? Share your own below and join in on the conversation in the comments!