I'm counting down the top 10 players in the AFC North, one per day, as we head into the 2012 NFL season. These rankings are based on 2011 performance only and are not projections of these players' 2012 success. In a division this good, ranking just the top 10 isn't easy.
Clearly, there's no better quarterback in the AFC North than Ben Roethlisberger. During his tenure as the Pittsburgh Steelers' starter, the team has reached three Super Bowls and won two.
He's able to withstand hit after hit, missing far less time than his injury history would have you believe, extend plays via his uncanny ability to scramble for a man of his size and helped the Steelers become a top-10 passing offense.
Roethlisberger had a career-high 513 pass attempts last year. He completed 63.2 percent of his passes for a total of 4,077 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He only missed one game due to a foot injury.
His 40 sacks are as much his fault as his offensive line's, but that number should decrease in 2012 as new offensive coordinator Todd Haley will keep Roethlisberger in the pocket more often, call more no-huddle plays and more effectively employs their running backs.
There are few players on the offensive side of the ball in the AFC North who does as much for his team as Roethlisberger. His receivers are responsible for some of this, to be sure, but Roethlisberger's ability to make plays makes his inclusion in the division's top three a necessity.
No. 4: Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6: LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 9: D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Cleveland Browns