AFC North Draft Primer
Picks: 1st R-25th, 2nd R-25th, 5th R-25th & 26th, 6th R-25th
Needs: NT, CB, TE
In quarterback Joe Flacco's second season the Ravens began to open up the offense and went into the offseason determined to get more weapons around Flacco. Baltimore traded away draft picks for Anquan Boldin and re-signed Derrick Mason but the Ravens will look for more talent in the draft to upgrade an air attack that finished 18th in passing yards last season.
The Ravens have long been known for their defense and despite another successful campaign in 2009 Baltimore is rapidly aging and needs youth at a number of positions. Running the 3-4 the Ravens have a ton of beef at defensive end but will need to address the nose tackle position. Cornerback is another position of need as the Ravens slipped from 2nd in pass defense in '08 to 8th last year.
Due to the Boldin trade the Ravens will likely be quiet during the draft meaning they'll need to find contributors with their first two picks. On offense the Ravens can continue to stockpile with either wide receiver Demaryius Thomas or tight end Jermaine Gresham. Defensively the Ravens could nab a cornerback like Kareem Jackson or Kyle Wilson. Up front most of the blue chips will be gone by pick 25 though defensive tackle Terrence Cody would be an intriguing pick to fill the nose tackle position.
Picks: 1st R-21st, 2nd R-22nd, 3th R-20th & 32nd, 4th R-22nd & 33rd, 5th R-21st, 6th R-22nd, 7th R-21st
Needs: S, DE, OT
2009 was a transitional year for Cincinnati as the Bengals went from a finesse, pass-happy team to a physical, run-oriented unit. The result was a divisional title as the Bengals played the kind of football the AFC North has become known for. In free agency the Bengals signed Antonio Bryant to help the receiving core but tight end is a position that will need to be addressed.
The Bengals made huge jump defensively going from 19th in scoring defense in '08 to 6th in 2009. In Michael Johnson and Rey Maualuga the Bengals have two young players to build the front seven around. Now Cincinnati can turn to the secondary for playmakers
If there is a player more scrutinized in this year's draft other than Tim Tebow it may be safety Taylor Mays. Mays is the kind of high risk-high reward player that the Bengals used to get back to the playoffs in '09. Cincy can also add depth at defensive end with either Carlos Dunlap or Everson Griffen.
Picks: 1st R-7th, 2nd R-6th, 3rd R-7th, 21st & 28th, 5th R-3rd, 15th & 29th, 6th R-8th & 17th
Needs: QB, S, DE, WR
After a year's worth of wheeling-and-dealing the Browns are loaded with draft picks as they enter the Mike Holmgren Era. Cleveland will need all 10 picks they have as the Browns did very little right in 2009. The Browns finished 8th in rushing yards but toward the bottom in every other major offensive category. Cleveland signed Jake Delhomme to be the quarterback of 2010 but the Browns will need to address the position for 2011 and beyond.
Defensively the Browns weren't much better though surprisingly they held three opponents out of the end zone in '09. The lack of playmakers was evident as Cleveland finished 29th against the pass and 28th versus the run. The free agent signing of linebacker Scott Fujita helps that position but the Browns will need upgrades everywhere else.
With the seventh pick the Browns can go in a number of directions, whether it be drafting for need, best available or drafting for the future. It appears that after the fourth pick the draft will get unpredictable so best available could very well be an offensive tackle like Trent Williams. A need pick like safety Eric Berry would be solid and the Browns could also look to the future with either quarterback Jimmy Clausen or high-risk wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Picks: 1st R-18th, 2nd R-20th, 3rd R-18th, 4th R-18th, 5th R-20th, 24th, 33rd, & 35th, 6th R-19th, 7th R-18th & 35th
Needs: CB, DE, LB
The Steelers lost their super swagger in 2009 as a five game losing streak in the second half of the season sunk Pittsburgh's chances at repeating as champions. A huge part of the problem was along the offensive line as the Steelers yielded 50 sacks and finished 19th in rushing yards. As such the Steelers were forced to rely heavily on Ben Roethlisberger and due to recent legal troubles for the quarterback that option might be limited in 2010.
Pittsburgh had the best defense in 2008 but in '09 the Steelers were routinely gutted through the air. It spoke volumes that the Steelers gave up three 4th quarter touchdown passes to the lowly Oakland Raiders. Pittsburgh also gave up 383 yards to Aaron Rodgers, 334 yards to Brett Favre and 248 to Matt Cassel. All told the Steelers finished 13th in scoring defense, 16th in passing defense and out of the playoffs for only the second time since 2003.
Secondary is a huge need and the Steelers can address it with either Joe Haden or Kyle Wilson. Of course, another huge need is that offensive line that deteriorated throughout 2009. Here the Steelers can look to the interior with either center/guard Maurkice Pouncey or guard Mike Iupati. At tackle Pittsburgh could grab Anthony Davis or Charles Brown.