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2009 NFL Draft - Team Needs Report - AFC North
The Sports Xchange
April 20, 2009
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Baltimore Ravens

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive end, tight end, kicker.

WR -- The Ravens have an adequate group with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams. But all three are scheduled to become free agents after this season. This is the time when the Ravens need to restock their receiving corps and find a weapon that can grow with quarterback Joe Flacco. Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rutgers' Kenny Britt would instantly improve the Ravens' size at receiver.

OT -- The Ravens looked at Orlando Pace and Marvel Smith in free agency, which shows that they are not comfortable with Willie Anderson at right tackle. This has been the weakest spot on the Ravens' offensive line for the past decade. Baltimore has tried stopgaps in the past with Anderson, Orlando Brown and Harry Swayne. The Ravens view this offensive tackle class as one of the deepest in the draft and could take one early.

DE -- It's important that the Ravens look for an heir apparent to Trevor Pryce, who might only have one season left in him. Pryce showed signs of decline last season, and the Ravens' pass rush suffered. The Ravens need to find a young offensive lineman who can complement nose tackle Haloti Ngata.

TE -- The Ravens' top two tight ends -- Todd Heap and L.J. Smith -- have a history of injuries. The Ravens have to add a young tight end that can be groomed for one season before becoming a starter the next. Even when healthy, Heap never clicked in Cam Cameron's scheme.

PK -- With Matt Stover not in the Ravens' immediate plans, they want to bring in competition for Steven Hauschka, last season's kickoff specialist. The Ravens could draft a kicker (they found punter Sam Koch in the sixth round) or add a journeyman like Nick Novak (University of Maryland), Billy Cundiff or Justin Medlock after the draft.

Cincinnati Bengals

TEAM NEEDS: Offensive tackle, center, defensive end, running back, fullback.

OT -- With right tackle Stacy Andrews' departure in free agency and left tackle Levi Jones' future uncertain due to injuries, the Bengals need an immediate upgrade at the position. Anthony Collins, a fourth-round pick last year who started six games, could be Andrews' replacement but they need a cornerstone at left tackle. The line last year gave up 51 sacks and the blocking was inconsistent as quarterback Carson Palmer was injured early in the season.

C -- Eric Ghiaciuc, who has been the starter since early in 2006, is an unrestricted free agent and will not be back. He was often overmatched against nose tackles in the AFC North. Kyle Cook, Dan Santucci and Andrew Crummey are on the depth chart, but only one of them has taken snaps in an NFL game.

DE -- Robert Geathers has been inconsistent the last three seasons while Antwan Odom was plagued by injuries in his first year as a Bengal. Geathers also had microfracture surgery during the offseason, which means he will not be ready until at least minicamp in June. With defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer looking to blitz more, an aggressive end that can consistently put pressure on the quarterback rates as a need.

RB -- Cedric Benson re-signed a two-year deal during free agency and looks to be the starter, but the Bengals do not have a dependable backup behind him. With the AFC North being a runner's division, having two backs is a necessity. While Benson is a straight-ahead runner with good speed, the Bengals could look for a quick backup who can run outside the tackles and also can catch the ball out of the backfield.

FB -- After the release of Jeremi Johnson last year, Daniel Coats played the position, but he is better suited at tight end. With coach Marvin Lewis ready to stress the run even more, the Bengals are going to need a dependable, blocking fullback who could carry the ball in a power formation.

Cleveland Browns

TEAM NEEDS: Outside linebacker, safety, right tackle, wide receiver, running back.

OLB -- The Browns have to get more pressure on the quarterback, a point evident after producing only 17 sacks last season, but whether they can find their solution solely with the fifth pick in the draft without reaching is another issue. Coach Eric Mangini is encouraged by the potential of Alex Hall, a seventh-round pick from St. Augustine last year, but the Browns cannot bank on Hall to turn the defense around. Aaron Maybin of Penn State is a possibility if the Browns move back from No. 5.

S -- The Browns did not replace starting strong safety Sean Jones throu

gh free agency (Jones signed a one-year contract with the Eagles). They are going to have to do it through the draft. Patrick Chung of Oregon is ranked 50th overall by Coincidentally, the Browns second second-round pick is 50th overall. Jones battled knee injuries in 2008 and did not play as well as he did in 2007. He missed four games and still was third on the team in tackles with 83 and second with four interceptions.

RT -- The Browns released starter Kevin Shaffer before a long-term replacement was found. They did sign John St. Clair from the Bears in free agency. St. Clair and 12-year veteran Ryan Tucker will compete for a starting job, but the Browns need a bookend to go with left tackle Joe Thomas.

WR -- This position becomes the biggest need if the Browns trade Braylon Edwards before they pick fifth in the first round. Edwards is in the final year of his contract, although if 2010 is an uncapped year, Edwards will be a restricted free agent so the Browns would be able to retain him at a bargain price. If Michael Crabtree is as good as advertised, he might be difficult to pass up. Last year the Browns scored only 17 offensive touchdowns -- 11 through the air and six on the ground. Crabtree would change that, and he plus Edwards would be a formidable pair.

RB -- The Browns need to find the eventual replacement for Jamal Lewis, but if they do not take a running back with one of their first three picks they might as well wait until next year. The Michael Turners and Terrell Davis' of the world are few and far between. Last year seven of the top 10 running backs were first- or second-round picks.

Pittsburgh Steelers

TEAM NEEDS: Defensive line, offensive line, cornerback, wide receiver, linebacker.

DL -- They're good but getting old fast and the Steelers have not made this area a priority in the draft for years. It's time they start. Casey Hampton might not have long left at nose tackle at 32 but the Steelers also need to find an end to spell, if not replace, Aaron Smith (33).

OL -- The line already is considered a weakness, and the age factor applies here, too. The Steelers have concentrated on centers and tackles in the weeks leading up to the draft and it'd be a major upset if they don't add multiple offensive linemen in this draft.

CB -- There's little depth and there's not a Pro Bowl candidate in sight so this will be another position to watch. William Gay will start and he's still an unknown, while 34-year-old Deshea Townsend is the only quality backup.

WR -- As long as Limas Sweed cuts it, the Steelers should be OK. The problem is, the Steelers don't know if he's up to the task. There's not a No. 4 on the horizon and they need to find one. The Steelers want a combination punt/kick returner at this position, too.

LB -- Larry Foote enters his final season and James Farrior, productive as he's been, could age quickly. NFL defensive player of the year James Harrison will be 31 after just two years as their Pro Bowl starter.

AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West  |  NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West

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