Today's question: Who is the best newcomer to the division?
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s convenient to go with a first-round pick here, but tight end Maxx Williams, the Ravens’ second-round pick, is best positioned to get noticed. Joe Flacco has been waiting for a reliable tight end option since injuries slowed Dennis Pitta's career, and Williams has a unique ability to make tough catches, which will help him in this offense. He’s more athletic than some people think. First-round receiver Breshad Perriman has high potential but is a bit raw. Williams is more proven and ready to produce now. Other candidates for this spot are Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who can lift Cleveland’s porous run defense, and Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree. The Steelers’ depth chart begs for Dupree to take ownership of a spot. But Dupree, similar to Perriman, might need a year or two to come into his own. Williams won’t.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: While some of the biggest offseason splash arrivals came in the NFC West, NFC North and AFC East, there wasn’t much drama like that in the AFC North this year. Haloti Ngata may have been the best player to leave the division. His departure from Baltimore was certainly one of the biggest offseason storylines in the AFC North. As far as the arrivals, though, Tramon Williams seems to make the most sense. The former Packers defensive back comes to Cleveland where he tries to strengthen a secondary that already contains the likes of Joe Haden. The Browns’ eighth-ranked pass defense ought to be even better this year. Drafting Shelton also was a good move that should help the Browns’ defense.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens: Perriman is coming into the best situation of any newcomer in the division. Perriman is going to start immediately and he fills a big need as the team’s best deep threat after Torrey Smith signed with the 49ers in free agency. The biggest knock on Perriman is his inconsistency catching the ball. But he has the size and speed to be an impact playmaker. The Ravens are certainly going to get him the ball with a strong-armed quarterback like Flacco. He gives his receivers the chance to win one-on-one matchups deep, and the statistics back that up. Last year, Flacco threw 69 passes that went 30 yards or longer in the air. Only Drew Brees attempted more. Perriman is an excellent fit for Flacco and the Ravens.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: The Ravens will force-feed Perriman at receiver, and he will respond. It used to be that rookies took time to develop, but last season’s class showed that the spread offense rage in college helps receivers make the transition to the pros. Perriman has to cut back on the drops, but he is in an ideal spot. There is a starting spot waiting for him, his speed works perfectly with Flacco’s big arm and the Ravens have a glaring need at receiver. He will have a big season provided he dedicates himself to learning NFL routes.