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Team needs: AFC North

[Editor's note: The following is our fourth in a series of NFL
Draft team needs by division  We've looked at the AFC East, NFC South, and NFC West.]

Baltimore

DL: Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards just left the building, while Kelly Gregg and Trevor Pryce aren’t getting any younger.  The Ravens could use a few prospects here.

TE:  In theory, Cam Cameron loves to expose mismatches with tight ends.  In reality, Todd Heap is a so-so starter despite a healthy season in ’09.  Baltimore could look hard at Rob Gronkowksi and Jermaine Gresham as possible replacements.

OT: The Ravens seem willing to move on from Jared Gaither.  No team does a better job thinking years ahead and stockpiling massive offensive line talent.

CB: The top three look decent on paper, but LaDarius Webb and Fabian Washington are coming off torn ACLs.  Domonique Foxworth’s first season in Baltimore was uneven.  Webb looks like a keeper, but it’s been more than a decade since Baltimore drafted a true difference-maker at the position — Chris McAlister.

Cincinnati

DL: The team only has four true defensive ends on the roster, and Robert Geathers would be more productive coming off the bench.  The team’s run defense would also improve if they upgraded from replacement level starter Tank Johnson.

TE: Bengals fans know how many times the lack of a pass-catching tight end hurt them last year.  Chase Coffman doesn’t look close to helping. Marvin Lewis also likes to use six-men offensive lines, but they don’t have a great blocking tight end on the roster.  (The team could improve things before the draft.)

G: Bobbie Williams re-signed, but he’s turning 34 years old there isn’t a lot of depth here.  Nate Livings was the starting left guard last year and exceeded expectations.

S: This is a get-by unit led by short-term solutions Chris Crocker and Roy Williams, who both have shortcomings in pass coverage.  Nedu Ndukwe is a tough player, but his coach says he needs more discipline in pass coverage.  They need a safety that can cover the slot.

Cleveland

DL: In a way, Mike Holmgren’s lucky.  Needs don’t matter that much because this roster needs help everywhere.  We’ll start with the defensive line.  Both ends are over 31, and the team’s best defensive player (Shaun Rogers) is also its most unreliable.  Holmgren can’t just think about 2010.

WR: Mohamed Massaquoi is a keeper; Brian Robiskie is a mystery.  There is an opportunity to start here because there is very little evidence Josh Cribbs can be a consistent weapon at wideout.

QB: Mike Holmgren wasn’t patient enough waiting for his short-term fix at quarterback.  He handed Jake Delhomme big money, and could have acquired Donovan McNabb or Jason Campbell.  The Browns need a mid-round prospect to develop, and this is a bad draft to get one.

S: A cornerback would be nice, but the starting tandem isn’t bad after acquiring Sheldon Brown.  They could use a free safety help opposite Abram Elam even more.

Pittsburgh

CB: Both William Gay and Ike Taylor saw their stock drop precipitously last year.

DE: Last year’s injury to Aaron Smith was a reminder that the team needs to find their next Aaron Smith.  That’s a tall order.   

RB: The impact of a sluggish running game on Pittsburgh’s record last year was overstated, but the team still needs fresh legs.  Mewelde Moore is a fine third-down back. Rashard Mendenhall could use a hard-charging backup to help ease the burden.

OL: Willie Colon is an underrated player, but this is a good, not great group that could use competition at every position.  Florida center Maurkice Pouncey makes some sense in the first round. He could start at guard, and eventually replace Justin Hartwig at center.  

(Oh, and quarterback isn’t a need unless they trade Ben Roethlisberger.  And that won’t happen unless they got a quarterback in return.)

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8 Responses to “Team needs: AFC North”
  1. Cincinnasty says: Apr 16, 2010 7:09 PM

    I see Guard as our biggest need.. Our line was good in run blocking however the pass protection needs to be as good as Indy and N.O. if they want Carson to show off his abilities as a pocket passer..

  2. trickbunny says: Apr 16, 2010 7:38 PM

    Cleveland
    “…and the team’s best player (Shaun Rogers) …”
    Apparently, you know less about the Browns than you think, Gregg with two G’s. Not only are there better players on the team than Rogers (Josh Cribbs for one), but the D-line improved *noticeably* last year when Rogers was out and Rubin took his place.
    Come on, Greggles. Do some real research instead of lifting your idea of the Browns “best player” from a year-old copy of SI…

  3. AlanWeiss says: Apr 16, 2010 8:13 PM

    It’s actually Gregg with 3 G’s…..

  4. OLDCRACKER says: Apr 16, 2010 8:40 PM

    That’s exactly why the Browns should not trade for the #1. Too many holes to fill. Someday, this team must do it right and build the foundation. OL, DL, secondary, etc. Holmgren is the man to do it, too!!!

  5. JPerkVA says: Apr 16, 2010 11:54 PM

    As a Ravens fan, I hope we somehow are able to aquire some more picks if possible. I am also hoping we can hopefully have a shot at drafting Kyle Wilson(I also like Chris Cook if we decide to draft a CB after the first round. I like his versatility. He is a guy I think could play at Safety, too.). Wilson is a beast and i think he’d fit in well on our defense. He has that swagger about him. I could see us also taking a DL in the first round, too. I think Odrick would be a good pick and if Dan Williams were to slide down, I think it would be hard for us to pass him up. Could you imagine trying to block Ngata, Buddy Lee, and Williams/Odrick? That would free up our LBs to make plays. And for TE, this is a very deep class for the Ravens at all of the areas of need in my opinion and it’s possible that no TE’s could be taken in the first round which means they could find someone later in the draft that could come in and provide depth and be the successor to Heap in a season or two.I really like Gronkowksi bc I think he has the most complete game out of the TE class as long as he can stay healthy. Man, I cannot wait to see what Ozzie, Harbs and the rest of the staff and front office decide to do. Less than a week.

  6. persiang says: Apr 18, 2010 10:47 AM

    The Bengals need to draft an offensive lineman in the first round, why else would they have drafted Carson Palmer as a number one overall pick to be Quarterback? He’s a pocket passer so he needs an offensive line. A great one, at that to win a Superbowl. He has the ability to be a top five Quarterback in the NFL, but he doesen’t have a top five Offensive line. The O-line is great at running the ball, but they are suspect in pass plays. They signed Bryant, they have Ocho and Cauldwell, and Crosby shows flashes that he can catch the ball. But Carson, on sixty percent of the pass plays is on his back.

  7. Deb says: Apr 19, 2010 10:42 PM

    Pittsburgh is desperate at defensive back, not only at corner, but we also need depth at safety. Every time Aaron Smith goes down, our season is lost. His absence may have had more to do with our missing the 09 playoffs than the loss of Polamalu. We have to improve our depth on the defensive line and at linebacker. Farrior is showing his age.
    No offense to Hartwig, but he’s no Hartings. However, I’m expecting significant improvement to the o-line with Kugler replacing Zierlein as o-line coach. That should also help Mendenhall–as could the addition of a Bettis-like “bus” back. Unless Tomlin is confident Sweed can put his dropsy problems behind him, we should also consider bringing in another wideout to help fill the void left by Holmes as Ward inches toward retirement.

  8. RebaT. says: Apr 20, 2010 3:53 AM

    Pit does not need a QB. They have Batch and Dixon however I do believe Dixon will steal the #2 spot from Batch soon and it will make him #1 when Ben is out for the next 8 games. When that happens Ben will lose out because Dixon is going to be a star and Ben will be #2. Awful expensive #2… bu-bye Ben.
    It is unfortunate that the Steelers traded Faneca. When #66 left, the whole O line went down in flames. Essex is not that great and neither is Starks. I see players run around Starks constantly to get to the QB. He is clearly overrated.
    The Steelers need to do whatever it takes to keep Troy P in good shape. Clearly he is the defense compared to last year when he was out. Gay is not that great. Adrian Peterson ran over him like he was candy.
    It is a mistake to let Parker go to the Redskins. It was a good move to bring Randle-El back. Bruce Ariens has taken the run game out of the Steeler equation – and Parker is justified in his displeasure. Mendenhall is Mr. Fumble Boy. Somebody needs to educate Ariens that the Steeler game is the run game. Apparently he didn’t know this. Tomlin isn’t helping either. Tomlin is playing with a team that Cowher more or less put together. Give Tomlin 2 more years and he will have losing seasons. He got a free ride with SB XLIII win.

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