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AFC North 2023 Position Group Rankings: Linebacker

How does each team’s inside linebacker group stack up in the division?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The bulk of NFL free agent signings are now in the rear view as the start of training camp is now here. While some additions could still be forthcoming, we have a good idea of where each AFC North team’s depth chart stands ahead of the 2023 season.

Looking at the defensive side of the ball, how does every team’s positional groups stack up to one another in the division? Let’s break down the second line of defense at the linebacker spot.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Starters: Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen

Depth: Trenton Simpson, Malik Harrison, Kristian Welch

After trading for Roquan Smith at the deadline last season, the Ravens quickly had one of the better linebacker duos in the NFL between with him and Patrick Queen. Smith is a top-tier player at the position while Queen had his best career year in 2022. The potential for Queen to improve more in Year 4 is there, increasing the ceiling of this group.

Behind these two, the Ravens added Clemson’s Trenton Simpson in the third round of this year’s draft. Simpson possesses high-end athleticism, particularly as a coverage defender, and should find his way on the field as a complimentary option. Malik Harrison is also entering Year 4 like Queen. This is a deep group overall.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Starters: Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson

Depth: Akeem Davis-Gaithers, Markus Bailey, Joe Bachie

The Bengals’ investments in mid-round draft picks at linebacker in recent years has begun to pay dividends. Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt, now entering their fourth and fifth career seasons respectively, have developed into a solid starting duo in Cincinnati.

Both players are above-average pass coverage defenders for the position and Pratt in particular took a step forward in 2022. Behind them, Akeem Davis-Gaithers, Markus Biley and Joe Bachie provide depth. Davis-Gaithers played over 200 snaps on both defense and special teams last season.

3. Cleveland Browns

Starters: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Anthony Walker

Depth: Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki

After a promising rookie season, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah didn’t the sophomore jump many were anticipating in 2022. The former second-round pick still filled the stat sheet but was inconsistent as a run defender and in pass coverage. He also missed six games due to injury. The potential for a big Year 3 in a new defensive system, however, is there given his raw talent and athleticism.

The Browns re-signed Anthony Walker for a third season. Walker suffered a season-ending injury in 2022 after Week 3 and the Browns’ defense, particularly against the run, was impacted by his absence. Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki are two young linebackers providing depth and special teams snaps.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Starters: Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts

Depth: Mark Robinson, Tanner Muse

The Steelers’ linebacker room will look much different in 2023 than last season. The team parted ways with former first-round pick Devin Bush this offseason after a disappointing four-year tenure with the team. They also released Myles Jack, who they signed to a one-year deal last free agency cycle.

Incoming veteran acquisitions Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts will replace them in the lineup. Mark Robinson will also step into a larger role after seeing his snap count increase towards the end of 2022, which coincided with Bush’s declining presence. Overall, this is a makeshift group which much less continuity compared to the rest of the division.


Which team has the best inside linebacker group in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Baltimore Ravens
    (176 votes)
  • 8%
    Cincinnati Bengals
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Cleveland Browns
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    (3 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now