We kick off the second half of our players to watch segment with the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the rest of the AFC North.
Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown LB- Brown is the first rookie to make my Players to Watch list but his role is going to be paramount in the success of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens ILB corp is extremely thin with the departure of Ray Lewis and the uncertainty of Jameel McClain who is suffering from a frightening spinal injury. At Kansas State Brown showed great sideline to sideline speed, awareness and consistency. I ranked him as one of my top ILB’s.
Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor Mays S- Mays has had one of the most roller coaster NFL experiences that you could have imagined; from being a second round pick to being traded for a late round pick within 2 years. Mays is a physical freak that will get a chance to live up to his high draft status and the hype he generated while playing at USC. Mays will have to compete with Georgia Safety Shawn Williams for the starting role.
Cleveland Browns: Paul Kruger OLB- Kruger signed a big deal with the Browns this offseason much to the chagrin of the Baltimore Ravens. Kruger must now prove that his 2012 production wasn’t just a product of the talent around him or a contract year. Now that Kruger is locked up for the long term can he match last season’s level of production?
Pittsburgh Steelers: Emmanuel Sanders WR- With the departure of Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins this offseason the Steelers had to match the offer sheet that the New England Patriots offered Sanders, who was a RFA. Last season Sanders caught 44 passes for 626 yards and a touchdown. Sanders now enters a contract season as a starting WR with a chance to be extremely productive and cash-in in 2014.