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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Kiper's AFC North breakout candidates

By Jamison Hensley

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. put together his candidates for second-year breakout Insider seasons. Every team from the AFC North got a player on the list except for the Steelers. It's an Insider post, but here are the players who made it from the division:

Josh Gordon, Browns receiver: Kiper acknowledges that Gordon already had a breakout in the second half of his rookie season. Gordon is primed to be the Browns' No. 1 target for years to come.

Gino Gradkowski, Ravens guard-center: Needing to add weight and muscle, Gradkowski could be a starter as soon as next year depending on Matt Birk's status.

Marvin Jones, Bengals receiver: A deep threat, Jones showed enough flashes down the stretch to make the Bengals think he could compete with Mohamed Sanu for the No. 2 job.

Bernard Pierce, Ravens running back: He has played better than Ray Rice down the stretch. Just think, Pierce would been somewhere else right now if Ricky Williams hadn't decided to retire this offseason.

John Hughes, Browns defensive tackle: Billy Winn drew more attention as a rookie, but Kiper believes Hughes could start next to Phil Taylor with a strong camp in 2013.