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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Kiper's final AFC North mock draft

By James Walker

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. provided his final mock draft Insider with plenty of interesting selections.

Here is how Kiper views Thursday night's NFL draft in the AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals (No. 4)

Kiper's pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Analysis: Everyone knows that I'm against taking receivers this high in the draft. But I do like Green's talent, and I think he could be a good NFL receiver. If the Bengals take Green at No. 4, the next challenge would be finding a quarterback to throw him the football. Unless Cincinnati knows for sure it can land a quality veteran, the team should not leave this draft without a highly rated rookie to compete with Jordan Palmer.

Cleveland Browns (No. 6)

Kiper's pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

Analysis: Kiper pegged Jones to Cleveland in his last two mock drafts, but I have my doubts about this pick. Yes, the Browns need receivers. But this is a reach to take the second-rated player at the position with the No. 6 overall pick. If the Browns cannot trade down, getting help on the defensive line would make more sense here. If Cleveland drafts a receiver at six, it should be Green. Otherwise, the Browns could help their front seven on defense, which is very thin.

Baltimore Ravens (No. 26)

Kiper's pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

Analysis: For months, Kiper had the Ravens drafting a cornerback in this slot but changed his mind at the last minute. I think it's a wise move. Baltimore's biggest needs all along have been at right tackle and getting someone to rush the passer. Ayers can help with the latter. I think there are better pass-rushers available in the first round, but Ayers is both versatile and well-rounded.

Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31)

Kiper's pick: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Analysis: Williams has been a Pittsburgh favorite in mock drafts for quite some time. The Steelers are short on cornerbacks, and Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday he's operating as though none of his free agents will return. That means Colbert is drafting under the assumption top corner Ike Taylor will not re-sign. Top reserve William Gay also is a free agent, leaving Bryant McFadden as the only experienced corner on the roster. Williams would fill Pittsburgh's biggest need.