Top Rookies in the AFC North
The AFC North has some talented rookies in the 2022 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers added a future starting quarterback and an underrated receiver, the Cleveland Browns added an athletic target for their passing game, the Baltimore Ravens added some textbook Baltimore defenders, and the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals added reinforcements to their secondary,
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pickens would have been a first-round pick had he not been injured most of his final season at Georgia. He's a near-perfect combination of fast, tall, and tough that NFL teams look for in receivers. He's already joined the starting lineup, and I believe he is one of the more overlooked rookies who has a high ceiling.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Of course, the record-setting Pitt quarterback makes the list. Pickett has a rare advantage because he gets to start his pro career playing in the same city and stadium in which he played his college ball and has familiarity with one of the most consistently good coaching staffs in football. Although he did not win the starting job, he is definitely the franchise's future under center. Once he gets the opportunity, I think he will prove himself greatly.
David Bell, WR, Cleveland Browns
Bell was considered a first-round prospect by some experts until a poor performance in terms of speed at the NFL Combine. If you ask me, the questions are not that big of a deal because his game is predicated on making plays as a big and athletic receiver, not speeding past everyone. All that caused him to drop to the third round, where Cleveland may have gotten a steal.
Travis Jones, DT, Baltimore Ravens
Jones is on my list because of how well his game fits the Baltimore defense, I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: Jones is a perfect nose tackle for the Ravens and his playing style reminds me of Haloti Ngata, Tony Siragusa, and the other impressive nose tackles the Ravens have been lucky enough to have on their defenses. He still needs to polish some things as a rookie, but Jones is a much better and quicker athlete than your typical nose.
Kyle Hamilton, S, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens' defense is at its best when it has a ball-hawking safety striking fear into opponents on the back end. Ed Reed made a Hall of Fame career doing exactly that, and Eric Weddle and Earl Thomas continued to carry the torch during their short stints with the team. Now, the Notre Dame product will get his chance to prove he should be thought of in the same ilk and regain the reputation that once had him as a potential top-five prospect.
Daxton Hill, S, Cincinnati Bengals
Hill has the ability to play both corner and safety, but I would guess he'll stay at safety in Cincinnati. While Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates currently man the starting roles, Hill can easily carve out a role this season. He doesn't wow you with interceptions and defended passes, but he rarely gets beat, has great instincts, and is an impressive athlete. If the team is unable to reach a contract extension with Bates, Hill could make a great insurance policy should another team come to terms with Bates.