Today’s question: Who is the best newcomer to the AFC North?
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens’ No. 6 overall pick, will play right away and play well. Not sure yet whether he’ll be a star, but he will be solid. He was a bit erratic at Notre Dame, picking his spots for when he wanted to dominate. All the tools are there. It’s tempting to place receiver Corey Coleman in this spot because the Browns so desperately need receiving help, but he needs time to develop. Two playmakers to watch: Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd and Pittsburgh’s big free-agent signing, tight end Ladarius Green. Both can become reliable options fairly early, Boyd behind A.J. Green/Tyler Eifert and Green behind Antonio Brown. Both the Bengals and Steelers invested in secondary help high in the draft, but that position requires patience and nuance, so first-year impact could be spotty.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: With the likes of Corey Coleman, William Jackson III, Tyler Boyd and Kamalei Correa among those added to the division through the draft, the AFC North will have several newcomers to watch in 2016. But that said, there’s always uncertainty about whether a rookie’s game will translate quickly to the NFL and exactly how they’ll be used their first year in pro football. For that reason, for now, it’s best to consider the division’s top newcomer to be a proven veteran added during free agency. No newcomer should have the immediate impact on his team’s success as new Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. A year after setting career highs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in San Diego, Green comes to Pittsburgh to replace the retired Heath Miller. Because Miller was such a valued piece of Pittsburgh’s explosive offense, Green comes into a ready-made situation that caters to the use of pass-catching tight ends. There will be others to watch too. Robert Griffin III will have an obvious influence on Cleveland’s offense, and former Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby could significantly help Cincinnati’s defense.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter: Ravens safety Eric Weddle. This is an easy call because Weddle was the only top-20 free agent signed by any of the AFC North teams. Few safeties have been better than Weddle over the past five years. He is the disruptive safety and field general the Ravens have desperately needed since the departure of Ed Reed. This is a major step in turning around a Ravens defense that finished last in the NFL with six interceptions and allowed a franchise-worst 30 touchdown passes. This is also a major coup for Baltimore considering it had to beat out the Cowboys, Raiders and AFC North rival Steelers to get him. You can argue that the second-best newcomer in the division is on the Ravens. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, will start immediately and protect Joe Flacco’s blind side.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns reporter: A division whose prominent newcomers include Weddle, Griffin and Green doesn't exactly have marquee choices. Hue Jackson is an important newcomer in a new job, but he was in the division last season. Stanley was a sound first-round pick, but exciting? Not really. The best newcomer to his division isn't on the field but in the front office. The Browns' hire of longtime baseball guy Paul DePodesta drew snickers and raised eyebrows and wonder around the NFL when it was announced. However, he is an exceptionally intelligent thinker who challenges those around him to look at different ways to get the same job done. He brings new ideas, and has the chance to alter the landscape about how teams structure and utilize their front offices. DePodesta's hire may sound crazy to some, but it also may work.