Jul 28, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a pass during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
Predicting an All-Division team in the NFL can be tricky. Usually, there are many deserving players for a lot of deserving spots and some are unfairly debunked for players that many deem as inferior players. Still, it's always a fun game to play in the preseason and Ryan Wilson of CBSSports has concocted a preseason All-AFC North team, primarily based on players' past merits.
Of the 27 total positions that are available on the All-AFC North team, only four Bengals made the cut. A few of them are predictable, while others that did and didn't make it may surprise you. Interestingly enough, the team had four Pro Bowlers last season, but only two of those four made this list.
As it has been going all offseason, the praise for wide receiver A.J. Green continues. He made one of the three receiver spots on Wilson's list.
WR: A.J. Green -- If he's not already, Green will be one of the league's top five wideouts by the end of the year. He was as responsible for Andy Dalton's rookie success as offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
This isn't anything new, as we've been hearing this since the latter portion of last season when Green was a budding star on the way to the Pro Bowl. Now, we hear he has added ten pounds of muscle and has been looking terrific in camp. The 2012 season will likely be a huge one for the Bengals wide receiver.
Next in line, also predictably, is offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. However, because of the adulation for Cleveland Browns tackle, Joe Thomas, Wilson pushes Whitworth over as the All-AFC North's right tackle.
RT: Andrew Whitworth -- A left tackle for the Bengals, Whitworth is too good not to move to the right side for our purposes. We considered Michael Oher here, too, but prefer Whitworth, even if he's playing out of position.
It's good to see Whitworth getting the nod over Oher, but it seems that he will almost always be overshadowed by Thomas. Part of it has to do with Thomas' talent of course, but the other side of it has to do with where Thomas and Whitworth were drafted. Thomas, a former top-five pick, gains more national attention because of that high draft status.
Geno Atkins -- a favorite of CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who wrote in his annual Top-100 list: "He was a dominant inside player last season, beating up on good guards at times. He has the quickness to get a pass rush, but he's strong enough to hold up against the run."
Prisco does love him some Atkins and so do we. If Wilson had left him off of this list, it would have been an absolute travesty. Like Green, Atkins has been gaining a lot of national publicity this offseason and deservedly so.
The last Bengals player to make the list was kicker, Mike Nugent. This might be a bit of a surprise, as Phil Dawson of Cleveland received the same franchise tag designation this offseason, but Nugent had a marvelous 2011 campaign.
It's going to be hard for Nugent to replicate his success this season, but fans still have high hopes for him after signing his lucrative one-year deal.
The player who questionably got left off of the list was tight end Jermaine Gresham. Most agree that Gresham is talented, but still has yet to hit his prime and is an unfinished product. That being said, he was left off of the list for Ed Dickson and Heath Miller. It could be debated either way, but most would argue that Gresham should have supplanted one of those two for one of the tight end spots--especially coming off of a Pro Bowl season. Then again, if you asked Gresham himself, he might agree with Wilson's decision to leave him off of the list.