Antonio Brown has been a steal for Steelers
Training camp preview: The AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft. There were 194 players selected before the Steelers got Brown. How crazy is that? Brown is arguably the NFL’s best receiver.
Any list of the league’s top big-play artists must include Brown. Ask defensive backs and they’ll tell you that no wideout is better at making momentum-changing catches.
Brown has all the tools — top-notch speed, great hands, superb instincts — but he also sees things several moves ahead. His ability to anticipate coverage is second to none.
How did so many teams repeatedly pass on such a superstar? Well, scouting isn’t perfect. Mistakes are made. Look no further than Brown and New England quarterback Tom Brady, a sixth-round pick in 2000.
We look at the AFC North heading into training camp, in order of predicted finish this season.
Training camp location: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Report dates: Rookies and veterans, July 27
Look out for this guy: Head coach Mike Tomlin enters his 11th season with the Steelers. It seems like yesterday that Tomlin, then only 36, became the youngest coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl championship by guiding Pittsburgh to the 2009 title. Tomlin has grown into one of the league’s best coaches. He has a .644 winning percentage during the regular season and seven playoff appearances.
Camp watch: The Steelers applied their franchise tag on superstar running back Le’Veon Bell, meaning Bell will receive $12.1 million this season on a guaranteed one-year contract, making him the game’s highest-paid running back. But Bell wanted a multiyear deal, and that didn’t get done by the deadline. Bell has not signed his franchise tender. Will he report to camp?
Training camp location: Owings Mills, Maryland
Report dates: Rookies, July 19; veterans, July 26
Look out for this guy: After the Kansas City Chiefs cut Jeremy Maclin, the Ravens saw an opportunity to improve their passing game. Baltimore signed Maclin, who’s still capable of being a solid No. 2 wideout. Remember: During the 2014 and ’15 seasons combined, Maclin totaled more than 2,400 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Maclin also should be motivated to show that the Chiefs made a mistake in cutting him, especially as late as they did.
Camp watch: The Ravens made several moves to improve at cornerback, which made sense. They’re hoping that first-round pick Marlon Humphrey, a former Alabama standout, will help immediately. Humphrey isn’t considered especially polished in his technique. Ravens coaches have work to do.
Training camp location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Report dates: Rookies, July 25; veterans, July 27
Look out for this guy: Not surprisingly, the Bengals were immediately put on the defensive about their controversial decision to draft former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. Bengals officials say they did their due diligence before using a second-round pick on Mixon. They envision Mixon making a significant contribution in their backfield. We’ll see.
Camp watch: So how does Mixon fit? Well, he’s versatile, which always helps. Mixon has impressed in OTAs. He figures to make plays in the passing game. Don’t be surprised if Mixon climbs the depth chart in a hurry.
Training camp location: Berea, Ohio
Report dates: Rookies, July 23; veterans, July 26
Look out for this guy: Head coach Hue Jackson’s first season in Cleveland could best be described as, well, horrendous. The Browns went 1-15. Often, they looked hapless. And Jackson’s investment in quarterback Robert Griffin III proved to be a waste of time.
Camp watch: No team needed a bigger infusion of talent than the Browns. They added three first-round picks — including defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall selection — and quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round. Did the Browns nail all the picks? For Jackson’s sake, he had better hope so.
NEXT: AFC South