- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
If Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw or inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower is still available at the No. 20 pick (which is currently held by the Titans), the Ravens will try to trade up to get one of them, according to the Sporting News' Mike Preston.
"Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is a former Alabama great and has all the inside skinny information on both players," Preston wrote.
According to Preston, Baltimore also likes Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill. The Ravens know he isn't a polished route-runner, but they think he has great potential.
Hensley's slant: Upshaw and Hightower have been popular picks for the Ravens recently. Upshaw can replace Jarret Johnson, and Hightower can learn from Ray Lewis. And trading isn't out of the question for the Ravens, who have made a move in the first round in three of the past four years.
BENGALS: Head coach Marvin Lewis hinted that the team will use its two first-round picks on defense, according to the team's official website. The Bengals have taken offensive players in the first round in the past three drafts. Asked at his pre-draft press conference if this draft is tilted to offense or defense, Lewis pointed at defense because, "Maybe we have more needs defensively." After taking defensive end Carlos Dunlap in the second round in 2010 he said, "We've kind of neglected defense over the last couple of years." Hensley's slant: I would be surprised if the Bengals used both first-round picks on defense because there should be quality offensive players available at the bottom half of the first round. It would make sense for Cincinnati to pick up a guard (David DeCastro and Cordy Glenn) or a wide receiver (Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill) with one of those top picks.
BROWNS: Will the Cleveland Browns pass on Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon one year after not selecting wide receiver Julio Jones? "Last year had nothing to do with the player," Browns general manager Tom Heckert told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It had everything to do with the deal we were able to make. We loved Julio Jones." Blackmon had 232 catches for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns the past two seasons with Oklahoma State. He's only the second player to win the Biletnikoff award twice as the nation's best receiver (the other was Michael Crabtree). Hensley's slant: If the Browns take Blackmon fourth overall, it cause a lot of head-scratching. Blackmon isn't in the same class as last year's No. 4 pick, wide receiver A.J. Green, and he isn't graded as high as Jones. There will be better value for wide receivers later in the first round.
STEELERS: If Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe and Alabama's Hightower are still available at the Steelers' No. 24 spot, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette thinks the team will go with Poe. But Bouchette doesn't see Poe starting immediately unless Casey Hampton (knee) is sidelined. "It sounds as if he's one of those who can use a little grooming first," Bouchette wrote. Hensley's slant: I agree that the Steelers likely have Poe rated higher than Hightower. But Hightower is more likely to be there when the Steelers are drafting. It will take a handful of interested teams to pass on Poe for him to fall that far.