The AFC North always has something brewing in the NFL breakout category. Who is up for it in 2014?
Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Eifert
Splitting time with Jermaine Gresham didn’t give Cincinnati Bengals fans a real good look at tight end Tyler Eifert in 2013. However, as the offense shifts under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, expectations are raised for the Notre Dame product. Jackson has a productive history with tight ends, including names such as Zach Miller and Alge Crumpler. He should know exactly how to use Eifert in the passing game and the benefits will be telling from the outset.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones
Doubts about his health at the NFL level, but Jarvis Jones made it through his rookie season relatively injury free. His sack production on the other hand left something to be desired for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their hopes were to pair him with Jason Worilds as their new outside linebacker pass rushers to replace the departed James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Worilds did well last season, but the wait is still on for Jones. With another year of experience and a bolstered defensive line he is poised to take that next step.
Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Brown
The addition of Steve Smith certainly helps the Baltimore Ravens on offense but they are certainly going to keep working with receiver Marlon Brown. Despite being a rookie free agent in 2013, he managed to post 524 yards and seven touchdowns. His 6’4″ frame is something that would really compliment the smaller Steve and Torrey Smiths. The lingering questions for him are with consistency. Not only will he work through them, but he will emerge as a favorite target of Joe Flacco.
Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo
It wasn’t the greatest debut for an NFL rookie pass rusher but it wasn’t like Barkevious Mingo was terrible for the Cleveland Browns. He made 42 tackles and collected five sacks in 15 games. It’s just a question now of whether he can build on that. Cleveland certainly is giving him help. The arrival of Justin Gilbert gives the team two potential shutdown corners with Joe Haden. Having them on the back end should give Mingo extra opportunities in the pass rush. Provided he is what the Browns thought when they drafted him, he should see a serious spike in production.