Wednesday, April 20, 2011
AFC North mock draft board
By James Walker
On Tuesday we opened the floor for our AFC North community to make up half the division's board in ESPN.com's 2011 blogger mock draft.
Here is how things panned out:
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 4 overall)
Analysis: I was surprised neither Auburn quarterback Cam Newton nor Missouri's Blaine Gabbert made the community board. Despite Carson Palmer's trade demands, Bengals fans don't seem sold on either quarterback at No. 4 and appear more content with finding one in the second round, which I agree with. Newton finished seventh in the fan voting behind Auburn teammate Nick Fairley, while Gabbert finished eighth. LSU corner Patrick Peterson narrowly edged Georgia receiver A.J. Green with slightly more first- and second-place votes. But since I had Green fourth -- I'm not high on picking receivers in the top five -- Peterson got the top spot on the final board.
Cleveland Browns (No. 6 overall)
Analysis: The Dawgpound wanted Green. Although I'm still against picking receivers this high, I understand why. Green is a tremendous talent and has the ability to help second-year quarterback Colt McCoy take the next step. He was No. 4 on my board but No. 2 on the overall board, which means he has a good chance to be picked in this blogger mock draft. Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus is likely going to the Denver Broncos at No. 2, making Green the next player on our board. But the Browns still will need a ton of help on their defensive line switching to a 4-3 defense next season.
Baltimore Ravens (No. 26 overall)
Analysis: Colorado corner Jimmy Smith was far and away the community's top pick. He received the most overall votes and the most first-place votes from Ravens fans, who were not concerned with character issues. But character was important for me, and I rated Smith fourth for Baltimore. The team took a risk last year with Sergio Kindle and got zero production from that pick. I think the Ravens should go safe with their top pick this year and fill another need on the offensive line or defensive front seven. But the community has spoken and Smith is No. 2 on the final board, making him the target if Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey is gone.
Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31 overall)
Analysis: Steeler Nation was pretty much united on their ballots. Minus a few exceptions, most had the same players in the top five. If not, at least the same positions of cornerback and offensive and defensive lines were addressed. In the end, Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and Miami corner Brandon Harris came out on top. The Steelers have to hope one of those two corners make it to No. 31, which also could be a scenario that plays out next week. Otherwise, the offensive or defensive lines become the target in this mock draft.