The Duel

4 Breakout Players From the AFC North for the 2019 NFL Season

Zach Brunner
Carolina Panthers v Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The AFC North may have seen the more movement than any other NFL division in the league this offseason. The Cleveland Browns added playmakers to finally try and climb out of rebuilding mode, while the Pittsburgh Steelers lost two of the best offensive players in the league.

As for the other half of the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens sent their former franchise quarterback packing via trade, and the Cincinnati Bengals got Marvin Lewis out of town. Keeping these changes in mind, here is one potential breakout player from each AFC North team for the 2019 NFL season.

4. Donte Moncrief, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With Antonio Brown out of town, there are 168 more targets up for grabs in Pittsburgh. And JuJu Smith-Schuster can only account for so many of those, considering he had 166 receptions of his own last season. JuJu is still expected to line up in the slot for most of the time, which means the door is open for Donte Moncrief to play on the outside and look for a much higher number of targets than recent seasons. His best NFL season was with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015, when Moncrief turned 105 targets into 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns.

3. John Ross, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals sport two of the best offensive players in the division between A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, who have helped most of us forget about former first-round 2017 NFL Draft pick John Ross and his potential. Let's not forget Ross did set the NFL Draft Combine's official 40-yard dash record back in 2017, blazing the drill in just 4.22 seconds. Largely due to injuries, Ross has played only 16 of 32 potential NFL games since he was drafted, but he showed flashes of his healthy potential during Green's absence last season. Despite being targeted only 58 times last season for 210 receiving yards, Ross still hauled in seven touchdowns.

2. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

NFL Draft
NFL Draft / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Simply put, the players in this Baltimore Ravens' offense are likely going to be heavily limited by a new scheme, more tailored for mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens figure to be run-heavy, but the total number of carries should also be spread out. However, when they do pass, they will likely look to rookie wide receiver and first-round NFL Draft pick Marquise Brown to make plays down the stretch. Averaging 17.6 yards per reception for the Oklahoma Sooners last year, "Hollywood" Brown showed just how electric he can be, flashing potential to bust plays open at the next level.

1. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

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

Nick Chubb showed us what he could do last season, almost reaching 1,000 rushing yards in his rookie campaign and averaging 5.2 yards per carry. This season, the Browns figure to have one of the most improved offenses in the league, and with that likely improvement comes many more touchdown opportunities. Chubb scored a total of 10 touchdowns last season, and while the receiving corps is highly talented, they aren't exactly the biggest red-zone threats. Chubb may get a lot of opportunities on the goal line this season, and with Kareem Hunt suspended for the first eight games, Chubb has the opportunity to get an early stranglehold on Cleveland's backfield.


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