AFC North positional rankings: How the Browns stack up following the NFL Draft

How do the Cleveland Browns stack up in arguably the best division in the NFL in the AFC North?
Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Cleveland Browns,
Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Cleveland Browns, / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
5 of 6


1. Cleveland Browns
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Pittsburgh Steelers

When healthy and playing their best, the Cleveland Browns have one of the best cornerback groups in the NFL. Denzel Ward shows regular flashes of being a star, lockdown corner, and Martin (M.J.) Emerson seems to be following in his footsteps. Greg Newsome III has struggled at times but, as a former first-round pick, has the talent to get it done.

The Browns have been successful drafting corners lately, adding Newsome, Emerson, Cam Mitchell just last year, and Myles Harden in the seventh round this year. They also have a couple of guys at the corner spot in Justin Hardee and Tony Brown who are elite special teams players as well.

Marlon Humphrey is right with Ward in the conversation as the top corner in the AFC North. The Ravens drafted Nate Wiggins in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft to pair with him and Brandon Stephens. They also got a steal later in the draft, snagging T.J. Tampa in the fourth round. They have talent at the position, no doubt, but we will see how things shape out and how the young guys play in 2024.

While the Bengals lack that top-tier, shutdown corner, they have three young, impressive guys that they will roll with in 2024. D.J. Turner is a speed demon who they drafted in the second round last year, Cam Taylor-Britt has been very impressive as a long, boundary corner, and Mike Hilton is a veteran nickel who is as versatile as they come around the line of scrimmage.

Pittsburgh is hoping that Joey Porter Jr., the son of their former linebacker, can evolve into that No. 1, lockdown corner that every team looks for. They also traded wide receiver Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers for speedy corner Donte Jackson this offseason. Overall, the Steelers are still very thin at corner, lacking top talent and depth at the position, securing their spot at the bottom of the ranking.


1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Cleveland Browns
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kyle Hamilton had a breakout 2023 season and carries the flag for the Baltimore Ravens at safety in these rankings. The versatile Notre Dame alum has been a chess piece for former defensive coordinator (now Seattle Seahawks head coach) Mike McDonald and will certainly continue to be for new DC Zach Orr. With former Saints star Marcus Williams entering his third season in Baltimore, Hamilton headlines the best safety duo in the division.

The depth of the Browns safety room is what holds them in second place here. Grant Delpit had a great year in 2023 and will look to grow and bloom into a star under Jim Schwartz this season. Veterans Juan Thornhill and Rodney McLeod add some valued experience to the room while young guys D'Anthony Bell and Ronnie Hickman both saw the field and played well in 2023.

The Bengals could really make a case for the top spot in the safety rankings with the sheer talent that they have. They could have two future stars on their roster in Dax Hill and Jordan Battle who, right now, provide depth behind veteran Vonn Bell and free agent signing, Geno Stone, who they stole away from the Baltimore Ravens. We will see how the younger players develop and how the veterans play in 2024, but Cincinnati has talent in their secondary.

Pittsburgh will argue that they have the best safety in the AFC North with Minkah Fitzpatrick, which very well could be the case. However, Steelers fans will be the first to admit that throughout Fitzpatrick's time in Pittsburgh, they have failed to give him a reliable running mate. Right now, it looks like DeShon Elliott is slated in that spot which does not stack up against the rest of the talented safeties in the division.