- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 2010 regular season is in the books. But before we advance to the playoffs, let's look back at the best players in the division.
Here is the first annual Walker's All-AFC North team:
Skinny: Had Ben Roethlisberger not missed four games, he probably would have surpassed Flacco. But "Joe Cool" gets the nod in his third season after leading the Ravens to 12 wins and their third consecutive playoff appearance. His next step is to perform well in the postseason.
Skinny: Running back is always a very close race. Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall and Cedric Benson all rushed for more than 1,000 yards. But Hillis did everything for the Browns with very little help. He led the team in rushing (1,177 yards) and was second in receiving (61 catches). Without Hillis, the Browns (5-11) might not have won more than two games this season.
Fullback: Lawrence Vickers, Browns
Skinny: Baltimore's Le'Ron McClain gets the most publicity. But we're picking the underrated Vickers, who paved the way for Hillis to have a breakout season. Vickers should get some interest as a free agent.
Skinny: Wallace is a dangerous deep threat who averaged an astounding 21 yards per reception. Owens (72 receptions, 983 yards) proved at 37 that he still has something left in the tank.
Tight end: Ben Watson, Browns
Skinny: Watson led all AFC North tight ends with 68 receptions. He was the safety valve for rookie Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy.
Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
Skinny: Pouncey had a Pro Bowl year as a rookie and will be a fixture in Pittsburgh. Steinbach is an alternate for the Pro Bowl and Grubbs is solid. Thomas was an obvious choice at left tackle, while Whitworth narrowly edged Baltimore left tackle Michael Oher, who committed too many penalties this season.
Skinny: Suggs (11 sacks) bounced back strong this year and is heading to another Pro Bowl. Dunlap was tremendous in the second half of the season and recorded 9.5 sacks as a rookie. Ngata is arguably the most dominant interior defensive lineman in football, and Rubin (82 tackles, two sacks) has come into his own this season.
Skinny: Linebackers in the AFC North are always easy choices. All four of these players were productive as usual.
Skinny: This was not a strong year for corners as division teams continue to struggle with pass defense. But Haden proved worthy of Cleveland's No. 1 pick with six interceptions as a rookie. Taylor (66 tackles, two interceptions) had another solid, albeit not spectacular, season.
Skinny: No debate.
Kicker: Billy Cundiff, Ravens
Punter: Sam Koch, Ravens
Returner: David Reed, Ravens
Skinny: The Ravens cornered the market on special teams this season, which must please head coach John Harbaugh, a former special teams coach.
Congrats to all the 2010 winners. There were plenty of good choices, but not everyone can make Walker's All-AFC North team.
Did someone get slighted? Who was more deserving? Let's hear it.