Ranking The Rooms: AFC North RBs

Ah, yes. The dog days of summer (almost?)

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently in the midst of the rookie minicamp on the South Side, we’re stuck in the slow days of the offseason.

Fortunately for you, the “Ranking the Rooms:  AFC North” series is rolling along!

After looking at the AFC North QB’s room earlier in the week, we’ll take a look at the AFC North RB’s today.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

Wait, what?

Hear me out:  this is a ranking of the rooms, and the Bengals’ running backs room is very, very deep.

Sure, the Steelers have arguably the best running back in the game today, but there are plenty of question marks behind him.

With the Bengals, the duo of Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard returns, but the addition of Joe Mixon — a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft — puts this group over the top.

While I’m sure a majority of you knows my personal feelings on Mixon being in the NFL, there’s no denying just how great of a talent he is. Adding him into the mix in Cincinnati pushes that backfield towards one of the top committees in the league.

It’s true that Hill was very poor last season on the field, but a lot of that had to do with the offensive line struggling. Granted, the Bengals regressed up front this offseason, but with added weapons in the receiving game, it should open up running lanes for Hill, Bernard and Mixon.

I know they’re the Bengals and I know Mixon is unknown, but I really like this trio.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell is in the discussion for the NFL’s best running back, so he automatically boosts this group up the charts, but there is no doubt that the concerns behind him are real.

Just last season there was a comfort level knowing DeAngelo Williams was the backup to Bell, but this season Williams is gone and rookie James Conner and veteran backup Knile Davis are the pieces behind Bell, who has a history of suspensions and injuries to his resume’.

Although a large majority of Steelers fans loved the selection of Conner, there’s no denying that as of right now he’s an unknown behind Bell, and Davis has proven over time that he’s not a durable running back outside of third downs and the return game.

Conner will most likely develop into a solid No. 2 behind Bell, but for now it’s a large unknown (for the record:  I loved the Conner pick and the fit for the Steelers), which played a role in the Steelers falling behind the Bengals this summer in the running back rooms debate.

3. Cleveland Browns

Isaiah Crowell had a really strong year on the ground in the first season under Hue Jackson in Cleveland, as the fourth-year back really stepped up to serve as a legitimate No. 1 back in this league.

But the depth behind Crowell improved as well, starting with Duke Johnson, who developed into a solid third-down back and between the tackles runner for Cleveland in 2016. He’s the ideal change-of-pace back behind Crowell.

Rookie Matthew Dayes had arguably the best vision of any running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, so adding him in the final round in April was a great addition to the Browns, while George Atkinson III and Darius Jackson are going to compete for the final roster spot.

There’s plenty of depth at the running back position for the Browns, which is something that couldn’t be said two years ago.

4. Baltimore Ravens

There are plenty of recognizable names in this group, but tons and tons of question marks for the Ravens on the running backs depth chart.

Terrance West is back for another year, but he fell off a cliff last season after a strong start, raising serious concerns about his ability to be a No. 1 running back in the NFL.

Second-year pro Kenneth Dixon is the clear No. 1 back in this group, but he was popped this offseason with a four-game suspension for PED use, forcing the Ravens to be without their best running to start the season.

Dixon’s suspension caused the Ravens to go out and sign veteran scat back Danny Woodhead, who is coming off of a second torn ACL in his career, so concerns about his durability and diminished skills are real. That being said, he fits perfectly into what Joe Flacco and the Ravens like to do.

Behind that trio is Javorius Allen, whom I loved coming out of USC, but he hasn’t been able to develop into a decent running back at the next level.

Lorenzo Taliaferro is just a guy (JAG) for this team, while undrafted free agent Taquan Mizzell could make the team as a returner.


Last Year’s Rankings

1. Pittsburgh
2. Cincinnati
3. Baltimore
4. Cleveland

  • Rocksolid20

    What happened to Trusaunt ?

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    From what I’ve seen on rushel shell he’s a guy I’m hoping can make the p.s

  • falconsaftey43

    Hill is the most overrated RB in the league. Was always glad when they’d play him over Gio.

  • Josh Carney

    Still around, but I doubt the Steelers carry 4 RBs.

  • Josh Carney

    He’s overrated, but still a good piece. I just wouldn’t call him a top 10 back like Bengals fans have.

  • Ichabod

    Sorry but having Bell “in the room” elevates that room above the others. Steelers rank #1

  • LHW

    I agree. Bell is much more than just a “running” back. Teams actually have to scheme with him in mind, and the opposition can never be sure how they will use him.

  • Steelers12

    lol Bengals fans really think that?

  • Steelers12

    he got a shot

  • Steelers12

    i have to agree as well, Bell is a RB and WR

  • WB Tarleton

    But Bell has averaged less than 12 games per season over his career.

    That HAS to be taken into consideration.

  • Ichabod

    If you had the choice between the Bungles “room” or the Steelers “room,” which would you take?
    Me…the Steelers. Thus my opinion that they have the #1 room

  • JohnB

    I’d hold em in second for the reasons Alex listed plus the suspensions and injuries. If he can have a year without both then we’re talkin.

  • LucasY59

    good thing Cinci has DaLOLton as a QB and is re-building their OL, their skill players on O are really good, but poor blocking (and QB play) should keep them from being as good as they could potentially be

    ClevLOLand improved their OL but dont have a QB (and the WRs and RBs arent that big of a threat either) and so Im not too worried about them

    the Ratbirds dont have much at RB, and they are somewhat re-building the line, Flake-0 will struggle with an unbalanced offense, but their D will be good

    The Steelers defiinitely have the best Offense, it is balanced/talented at all positions, and if the Steelers young D develops like it could/should they can stop any of the previously mentioned O’s (even cinci since getting pressure on andy will make him choke, regardless of who he has to throw/handoff to)

  • LucasY59

    team added a 3rd rd RB in the draft and a FA signing (new FAs almost always make the roster the 1st yr after signing) so gont theink they will keep Fitz as a 4th RB

  • Ichabod

    So…if you had the choice entering the season, you would rather have the Bungles room than the Steelers. Is that correct?

  • JohnB

    No. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have better depth than we do. But either way it’d be good if they were there for the whole season.

  • Josh Carney

    Yes.

  • Ichabod

    I guess I don’t understand why they should be rated the best. That should be the one you would want. At least that’s how I see it. If I had had to, I could live with Cinci’s room.

  • JohnB

    Because you are making it personal. Just because they are your favorite doesnt mean they are the best. And theres nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to me personally Bell is my favorite RB in the league but behind him is a rookie and a career backup player. Cinn has two decent proven RBs and the highest rated rookie RB behind them. So cinn has a better room but Pitt is my favorite. See what i mean?

  • Ichabod

    See what you mean, but thinking you don’t see what I mean. I am picking the room that has the best chance to win. I’m not picking my favorite. Most say Bell is the best back in the league. I agree. Any room he is in doesn’t need a whole lot else to be the best. I guess we just disagree