Now that NFL training camps are over and we're in the third week of the preseason, we have a pretty good idea of how depth charts are going to shake out. We know which players are showing their age, and which are ready to break out. We've been able to evaluate -- or read the work of other people who have been able to evaluate -- how new additions will impact rosters.
A couple of months ago, before the start of camp, I argued that the Ravens had the division's best offense. Now let's rank the division's offensive position groups. (You can find the rankings for defense and special teams in this post.) And of course, let me know why I'm wrong. But be gentile. It's Friday.
Quarterback -- 1. Steelers, 2. Ravens, 3. Bengals, 4. Browns: Ben Roethlisberger may be a creep, but he's also one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL (and he has the rings to prove it). But Joe Flacco is on the rise, and he has the skills to become an elite QB if he can put it all together. The Ravens have good depth at the position, too, with three guys capable of stepping in and winning games. Cincinnati's Carson Palmer has top-10 skills, but the Bengals insist on paying him big money to hand the ball off (and the Bengals' backups have to make that fan base nervous).
Running backs (including fullbacks) -- 1. Ravens, 2. Bengals, 3. Steelers, 4. Browns: This one is no contest. Ray Rice is one of the most electrifying playmakers in the NFL (if he holds onto the ball) and Willis McGahee is still starting-caliber. FB Le'Ron McClain has gone to back-to-back Pro Bowls, and he can carry the load in a pinch. The Bengals have a nice one-two punch in Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott, and Brian Leonard has hammered out his niche. The Steelers are banking that Rashard Mendenhall can carry the load, and the Browns have two intriguing young players in Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty.
Receivers (including tight ends) -- 1. Ravens, 2. Bengals, 3. Steelers, 4. Browns: Bengals fans are giddy about Batman and Robin, but Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason rival Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens as a dynamic duo. What puts the Ravens over the top when it comes to pass-catchers is their new-found depth. Mark Clayton and Donte' Stallworth could thrive in reserve roles, and rookie tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta have looked good. The Bengals have impressive young players in WR Jordan Shipley and TE Jermaine Gresham, too. Both the Ravens and Bengals were successful in upgrading their offensive weapons this offseason. One more quick hit: I'm high on speedy Steelers wideout Mike Wallace, who should make Steelers fans forget about Santonio Holmes pretty quickly.
Offensive line -- 1. Bengals, 2. Ravens, 3. Browns, 4. Steelers: Entering training camp, I thought the Ravens had the best offensive line in the AFC North because of their depth, but then linemen started dropping left and right. The talent is there, but it's one of the team's biggest question marks at the moment. The Bengals have an underrated unit, with a bunch of maulers who set the tone for the team's pounding running game. The Browns have a nice young foundation with LT Joe Thomas and C Alex Mack, but they have to fill out the rest of the line.