Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Wake-up: Browns leaning toward trade?
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Sources familiar with Browns general manager Tom Heckert told the Canton Repository that he is leaning toward trading out of the No. 4 pick without dropping too far.
The paper speculates that the Browns' pick could draw interest from the St. Louis Rams (No. 6 overall) and Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 7). Those teams need wide receivers and might want to beat the other to Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.
Trading down to those spots could land the Browns additional picks in the second and third rounds, according to the paper.
Hensley's slant: The extra picks would be beneficial to the Browns' rebuilding project, but they would lose out on Alabama running back Trent Richardson in the process. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to take Richardson at No. 5 if the Browns pass on him. By falling back to either No. 6 or No. 7, the Browns would have to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. He's the best defensive player in the draft, but he won't help the Browns' struggling offense.
BENGALS: Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is excited about what the Bengals have accomplished in free agency and what the team is bringing back from last year's playoff team. "I think we can win the Super Bowl with Andy [Dalton] and all the other guys we've got in that locker room," Whitworth told the team's official website. "But you have to go year by year. Each year is different and has nothing to do with the year before. The way some of our young players played last year is the reason we are where we are. If they get better and stronger and more experienced, then we'll get better. But we're not going to know until we get on the field this year." Hensley's slant: The Bengals can make up their most ground on the Steelers and Ravens in the draft, where they have three of the first 53 picks. They still need to find a starting guard and a No. 2 wide receiver. And, before Bengals players can talk about the Super Bowl, they need to end the team's 22-year drought of not winning a playoff game.
RAVENS: The Ravens have now shifted their search for another pass-rusher away from free agency. “Probably more of our attention is toward developing our guys and toward the draft," coach John Harbaugh said at the owners meetings, via the team's official website. Baltimore brought in free-agent defensive end Mark Anderson for a visit, but he ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills. Hensley's slant: I'm intrigued by Clemson's Andre Branch, an athletic defensive end who can provide a pass rush but also move to outside linebacker in a base 3-4 defense. Branch is projected to go toward the bottom of the first round. Don't forget about the possibility of Baltimore using its first-round pick on Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, who is the younger brother of current Ravens defensive lineman Art Jones.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette said it wouldn't be surprising to see the Steelers draft a running back early despite needs on the offensive and defensive lines. He said there are possibilities in the second round along with the likes of Miami's Lamar Miller in the third or Baylor's Terrance Ganaway later on. "That offensive line might look a whole lot better blocking for a good back," Bouchette wrote. "You can never have enough good running backs and while the Steelers do have enough running backs, no one knows if they’re any good or not." Hensley's slant: The Steelers know they can't count on Rashard Mendenhall (ACL surgery in January) to be fully back this season and they probably think of backup Isaac Redman as a stopgap player. If the Steelers go for a running back in the second round, they should select Virginia Tech's David Wilson, a speedy back with big-play ability.