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Monday, September 1, 2008
All-AFC North picks: Offense

By James Walker

 Jason Bridge/US Presswire
 The Steelers need Ben Roethlisberger to remain healthy for the team to be successful in 2008.

Posted by's James Walker

Now that we've traveled to see every team in minicamp, training camp and the preseason, it's time to make our All-AFC North picks for 2008.

Let's start with the offense.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Skinny: Roethlisberger has the ability and big contract to match what should be a tremendous year in 2008. He has full command of this offense and rarely misses a throw he should make. The only question is can the offensive line keep Roethlisberger upright and healthy all season?

Honorable mention: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals

Running back: Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Skinny: "Fast Willie" tells us his leg is fine. We tend to believe him. Parker led the NFL in rushing before his injury last December. Therefore, health questions aside, there's no reason to believe he won't have another productive season for Pittsburgh. Rookie Rashard Mendenhall will get some of Parker's carries, but it could turn out to help keep Parker fresh in games.

Honorable mention: Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns

Fullback: Lawrence Vickers, Cleveland Browns

Skinny: This pick is tricky and the one we are least sure about. Vickers had a tremendous year in 2007. But he hasn't looked all that impressive this offseason and word from the Browns is that he needs to pick it up. We want to pick Lorenzo Neal of the Baltimore Ravens, but he was signed by a new team late in preseason and he's coming off a broken leg. That would be too risky.

Honorable mention: Lorenzo Neal, Baltimore Ravens

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns; Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh Steelers

Skinny: Cleveland's Edwards is a nightmare to cover one-on-one because he can blow by you or jump over you. If Edwards cures his occasional case for the dropsies, we will begin mentioning his name next to those of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Sure, the  Holmes pick might have caught you off guard. But the Steelers' top deep threat has been the most impressive receiver in the division this offseason and we feel he's due for a monster season. Also, both receivers in Cincinnati are battling injuries.

Honorable mention: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati Bengals.

Tight end: Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland Browns

Skinny: In a division stacked with quality tight ends, Winslow remains a cut above the competition. Coming off an 82-catch, 1,106-yard season, Winslow is the one tight end in the AFC North that's dynamic enough to completely change the course of a game.

Honorable mention: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

Center: Jason Brown, Baltimore Ravens

Skinny: Jason Brown is a name not many people know, but you will this season. The four-year veteran has been the stable force on Baltimore's offensive line and has versatility to play the center and both guard positions at a high level.

Honorable mention: Hank Fraley, Cleveland Browns

Guards: LG Eric Steinbach, Cleveland Browns; RG Bobbie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals

Skinny: Steinbach is coming of a Pro Bowl year for the Browns and, teamed with Joe Thomas, should have another stellar year on Cleveland's left side. Cincinnati's Williams has never been flashy, but he is consistent. He started all 16 games last year and played in 98.7 percent of the team's snaps in 2007.

Honorable mentions: LG Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals; RG Kendall Simmons, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tackles: LT Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns; RT Kevin Shaffer, Cleveland Browns

Skinny: Thomas is an easy pick, as he might be the best left tackle in the NFL by season's end. But picking a right tackle is where it gets dicey. We're going with the proven commodity here in Shaffer. Some of the other right tackle candidates in the AFC North are too inexperienced and unproven.

Honorable mentions: LT Marvel Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers; RT Stacy Andrews, Cincinnati Bengals

Check back later today for our All-AFC North defensive and special teams for 2008.