AFC North News: All Division Preseason Centers

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 19: #53 Maurkice Pouncey reacts during the game against the New York Jets at Heinz Field on December 19 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

The All Division Preseason Team was chosen based on performance in 2011, projected success in 2012 and extraneous factors, such as potential, opportunity and overall talent. Positions are taken generally, meaning there won't necessarily be one right tackle and one left tackle, but there will be two offensive tackles.

Teams across the league are starting to see the value of a dominant center, and two teams in the AFC North are on the front line of this. It would be three if not for the injury of the center of another team.

It's likely to be a position of weakness for the Baltimore Ravens, who will bring Matt Birk back, despite getting whipped by the defensive tackles of the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The Bengals are less of a team without Kyle Cook (injury will keep him out for probably half the season), leaving only two centers standing.

All AFC North: Offensive Tackle | Offensive Guard |

C Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers

In probably the tightest competition among the offensive line, Pouncey wins out due to the major upgrade in talent at left guard. Pouncey battled injuries in 2011, and the smorgasbord of left guards the Steelers suffered through during the year drug Pouncey's individual production down. His rare combination of size and athleticism at the position gives him the ability to handle a division with outstanding interior defensive linemen, and he'll have a big year in 2012.

Honorable Mention

C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns

Mack is one of the lesser heralded outstanding players in the league, and with the amount of talented centers in the AFC, he looks to be one of those players who performs at a Pro Bowl level consistently, but isn't named to the team due to the reputations of others (namely Pouncey and Nick Mangold) in the conference. Mack is an excellent player, though, and there's every reason to think he'll continue at that level in 2012.


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