NFL Season Predictions: AFC North Breakout Offensive Players


Aug 22, 2023

The AFC North is stacked with high-end offensive talent, and many players can break out and add to that list in 2023. 

Click on the links below for a more detailed analysis of each team in the North and their potential breakout players. 

Baltimore Ravens – Zay Flowers, WR

Wide receiver Zay Flowers is primed for an explosive rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens. A standout in his final year at Boston College, Flowers racked up 1,077 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Known for his explosiveness and creative route running, he’s quickly become a favorite target of quarterback Lamar Jackson during training camp.

Flowers possesses the skills to make big plays for the Ravens, adding a new dimension to their aerial attack. Though he may face some challenges adapting to the NFL, Flowers has the potential to adjust and make a significant impact for Baltimore by stretching the field with his playmaking abilities.

Cincinnati Bengals – Jonah Williams, OT

The Cincinnati Bengals’ top priority is protecting quarterback Joe Burrow. As the franchise’s star signal-caller, Burrow’s presence on the field makes the team a Super Bowl contender. However, his protection has been inadequate due to a subpar offensive line, leaving him vulnerable in the pocket and often forcing him to scramble.

One player poised for a breakout in 2023 is offensive tackle Jonah Williams. Drafted by the Bengals in 2019, Williams has not yet reached his full potential. His performance as a pass-blocker has been underwhelming, but a change is on the horizon. With the recent signing of Orlando Brown Jr., Williams can now move to right tackle, which should ease the pressure on him. In this new role, it’s anticipated that Williams will continue to develop and become a more productive player, ultimately contributing to the protection and success of Burrow.

Check out SportsGrid’s NFL game picks and NFL props picks all season long.

Cleveland Browns – Elijah Moore, WR

Elijah Moore showed great promise at times with the New York Jets, and his breakout appears imminent as he joins the Cleveland Browns. Moore’s remarkable separation speed is expected to shine in Cleveland’s 2023 offense. Alongside Amari Cooper, Moore has an excellent chance to create a dynamic wide-receiver duo for the team.

The former Jet has been turning heads at the Browns’ camp, and with Alex Van Pelt’s offensive scheming, the third-year receiver is poised for a surge in production. Moore’s skills offer the Browns a fresh offensive approach, and he will likely gain wider recognition in 2023.

Pittsburgh Steelers – George Pickens, WR

George Pickens has been impressive throughout Pittsburgh Steelers camp. Despite skepticism about whether he was a one-trick offensive player, Pickens has shown he has more to offer. This isn’t a large sample, but it hints at his readiness to progress.

As a rookie, the former Georgia Bulldog recorded 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns, showcasing separation ability and the skills to make contested catches. We’re not predicting a Pro Bowl appearance in his second season, but there are indications he could reach 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and six touchdowns. The signs all point to Pickens continuing his growth, and that’s precisely what’s hoped for from him.

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Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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