Last week, Pro Football Focus unveiled their All-AFC North teams. There were 27 positions up for grabs between offense, defense, and special teams. Here is how the distribution of players worked out across the division:
Ravens - 10 players (2 offense, 6 defense, 2 special teams)
Browns - 6 players (1 offense, 5 defense, 0 special teams)
Steelers - 6 players (5 offense, 1 defense, 0 special teams)
Bengals - 5 players (3 offense, 0 defense, 2 special teams)
While the Steelers and Bengals dominate the division on offense, the Browns and the Ravens are ahead of the pack defensively. In particular, the Browns' strength defensively came in their secondary, where they had four players featured, including cornerback, nickelback, and both safety positions. On offense, LT Joe Thomas was left off the list in favor of LT Andrew Whitworth. It's a harsh call because if Thomas had been in any other division in the NFL, he probably would've been penciled in as the left tackle. Joel Bitonio did represent the Browns at left guard.
Here is what PFF had to say about the Browns who made the list:
Guards: Joel Bitonio (CLV) and Marshal Yanda (BAL)
These two were the starting pair for our All-Pro team making their inclusion here an easy one. Some recognition needs to go out to Kelechi Osemele, Kevin Zeitler, and John Greco who were all excellent as well in a division loaded with talented guards.
Linebackers: Daryl Smith (BAL) and Karlos Dansby (CLV)
A couple of veteran free agent success stories. Dansby has turned into a mercenary of sorts at inside linebacker, delivering consistently elite play for three different teams in the last three years. Smith has always been one of the best cover linebackers in the game, but graded out much better against the run in 2014 than his first season in Baltimore.
Cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith (BAL), Joe Haden (CLV) and K’Waun Williams (CLV)
Smith was one of the best in the NFL before heading to Injured Reserve. Williams was exceptional as a slot option as a rookie while Haden got back to form after a rocky start to the season.
Safeties: Donte Whitner (CLV) and Tashaun Gipson (CLV)
A very Cleveland-themed secondary for the 2014 season. Gipson had a breakthrough year playing alongside Whitner. The former undrafted free agent’s six interceptions were the second most at the position. Whitner replaced T.J. Ward admirably in his first season with the Browns grading positively against both the run and pass.