AFC North: Three named to All-Rookie team

January, 17, 2012
1/17/12
4:00
PM ET
Three AFC North players were named to the Pro Football Weekly-Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Here are the division players who made the team (along with my comment about the selection):

A.J. Green, Bengals wide receiver: Green might have won the Rookie of the Year award if not for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. The fourth overall pick led the Bengals and all NFL rookies in the regular season in receptions (65) and receiving yards (1,057). He tied for the rookie lead in touchdown catches (seven).

Jabaal Sheard, Browns defensive end: The second-round pick made an immediate impact on Cleveland's pass rush. Sheard finished with 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Phil Taylor, Browns defensive tackle: Even though he slowed down toward the end of the season, Taylor showed flashes of being a force inside. The 21st overall pick had four sacks and a forced fumble.

There's really no major arguments with this team. The PFW-PFWA selected Newton and his 35 touchdowns over the Bengals' Andy Dalton and his playoff season. It's also debatable whether Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert should have gone in over New England's Nate Solder.

But the Ravens' first-round pick, cornerback Jimmy Smith, was injured for most of the season, and the Steelers' top selection, defensive end Cameron Heyward, was a backup. Green and Atlanta's Julio Jones were the wide receivers selected over Baltimore's Torrey Smith. The biggest steal of the draft might have been Ravens fifth-round pick, defensive end Pernell McPhee, who had six sacks. But you can't put him in over Sheard or Houston's J.J. Watt.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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AFC NORTH SCOREBOARD