Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Take your pick recap: Top draft class
By James Walker
We had a very tough "Take your pick" this week in the AFC North blog. The question: Which division team had the best 2010 draft class?
Here are some responses from our AFC North community:
Tom J. from Cleveland writes: I would have to argue my Browns had the best draft. T.J. Ward seems like he will be a solid safety for a long time while Joe Haden looks as though he might become one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. In addition, Colt McCoy showed promise and if he ends up being our franchise QB then it is definitely the Browns who had the best draft.
Rick from Olympic Valley, Calif., writes: The Steelers have a clear advantage in respect to their rookie class. Not only was Maurkice Pouncey a rookie Pro Bowler, which should be enough, but Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders made the plays that got us to the Super Bowl.
JoeGoodberry via Twitter writes: Bengals got two starters (Jermaine Gresham and Carlos Dunlap), two major contributors (Jordan Shipley and Geno Atkins) and two good special teamers that could contribute later.
Vince C from Alliance, Ohio, writes: The best rookie class has to be the Browns. While not many wins the three guys you mentioned, McCoy, Ward and Haden all made major impacts and have laid down a solid foundation to build off of. They will be a great group for years to come.
Michael from Berkeley, Calif., writes: There's no doubt the Steelers had the best rookie class in the AFCN. Pouncey, Brown and Sanders all had an immediate impact on a championship-caliber team. Brown and Sanders even had to come into the season behind vets like Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Antwaan Randle El. The Bengals' and Browns' rookie classes are solid, but they generally didn't have to compete for spots on good teams.
StephanSharp via Twitter writes: Cincinnati. Gresham, Dunlap, Shipley will be studs for the next 5-10 years. Atkins is good, too.
Tyler from Geneva, Ohio, writes: The Browns by far had the best draft class this season. Colt McCoy is looking out to be a solid starter in this league. I haven't seen as hard of a hitting safety as T.J. Ward, ala Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Also, Haden had six interceptions this year. That is a solid veteran-like year out of a rookie.
Eddie Kilroy from Brunswick, Ohio, writes: As much as it kills me to say it as a Browns fan, the Steelers have the better rookie class. It's not by much, though. But their drafting ensures that their offensive line and their receivers are in the process establishing the Steelers as one of the best offenses in football. Another good draft this year and we'll be seeing the Pittsburgh offense leading the team to another Super Bowl.
Brad from Atlanta writes: The Browns win by default because they found a quarterback. Add a six-interception CB and a long-term starting safety and you should realize that this isn't a debate.
Fleetwood22 via Twitter writes: Definitely the Bengals. Dunlap had 9.5 sacks in 11 games. Shipley and Gresham were both very good, and Atkins got a lot of pressure on QBs.
Brian from Salt Lake City, Utah, writes: It has to be the Steelers. A lot of people had issues with the Steelers keeping eight rookies on their roster at the beginning of the season. Look how it paid off. Just ask the Ravens and Jets how big Antonio Brown was, and he wasn't our best. Pouncey, Sanders, Brown and Sylvester all had a major role in their respective areas that propelled the Steelers to the Super Bowl.
AFC North final say
James Walker: This is a very close race, but I tend to give the nod to Pittsburgh for two reasons. First, Pouncey was the only AFC North rookie to make the Pro Bowl, so that helps separate Pittsburgh. Second, Pouncey, Sanders and Brown never hit the rookie wall, and played big all the way to the Super Bowl, which is something the other two classes didn't do. I really like Cleveland's rookie production this year as well as Cincinnati's. And these players will only get better a year or two from now, when we might have to revisit this debate. But for now, the AFC champion Steelers get the slight edge after their rookies contributed heavily to their Super Bowl run.