Thursday, May 6, 2010
AFC North post-draft holes
By James Walker
Post-draft hole: Cornerback
Analysis: Unless the Ravens' brass knows for sure that cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington will be ready for Week 1 following knee surgeries, the team may want to explore the free-agent market to see what's out there. If the season started today, Baltimore would be down to its fourth cornerback -- presumably Chris Carr -- in the starting lineup opposite Domonique Foxworth. The nickel and dime roles are even more uncertain. Players like Dre' Bly and Ken Lucas are still available. Perhaps Baltimore is biding its time for now. Because if just one of the Ravens' injured cornerbacks returned in time for training camp or the regular season, that would be a solid boost towards the secondary.
Post-draft hole: Secondary depth
Analysis: One of the few weaknesses in Cincinnati's stout defense last season was defending slot receivers and tight ends over the middle. The nickel cornerback, in particular, was a problem area and the Bengals may have addressed that with third-round pick Brandon Ghee. Cincinnati also is in the process of working out a contract with controversial cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, who is a former first-round pick that was out of football last year. Jones could be a wild card for Cincinnati if he gets his act together. The Bengals also have been looking at free-agent safeties like Ken Hamlin and Gibril Wilson.
Post-draft hole: Wide receiver
Analysis: There are still various question marks on Cleveland's roster. But the biggest glaring need right now is at wide receiver. New team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have been diligent to patch up certain areas on the roster. But the one spot the pair failed to really address was receiver, only drafting sixth-round pick Carlton Mitchell. Last year's second-round pick, Mohamed Massaquoi is the only (somewhat) proven commodity on the roster. The cupboard was extremely bare coming into the offseason, so it's understandable that everything couldn't be fixed in one year. But if veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme is going to have a bounce-back season, someone has to step up and catch his passes.
Post-draft hole: Quarterback
Analysis: This is somewhat of a trick answer. But through the first six games, quarterback will be the biggest weakness of the Steelers. Star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will serve a conditional six-game suspension to start the season that could be reduced to four games. Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch will try to keep the team afloat in the meantime. Besides, perhaps, some depth issues at wide receiver, Pittsburgh doesn't have many holes on its 2010 roster. The front office did a solid job this offseason of patching up questions at offensive line (Maurkice Pouncey) and cornerback (Bryant McFadden).