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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Wake-up: Roethlisberger talks about Tebow

By Jamison Hensley

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Ben Roethlisberger knows firsthand the power of Tebow-mania. It was three months ago when he watched fans go crazy in Denver after Tim Tebow threw the winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.

So, when does Roethlisberger think Jets fans will begin chanting Tebow's name?

“First preseason game,” Roethlisberger told the New York Post last week.

Leading up to the playoff game against the Broncos, Roethlisberger expressed sympathy for Tebow because he is always in the spotlight. Now, Roethlisberger is feeling bad for Jets starter Mark Sanchez after Tebow was traded from Denver to New York.

"It's going to be tough," Roethlisberger said at the unveiling of the new Nike uniforms. “[Tebow is] going to be the most popular guy in the city."

Hensley's slant: Speaking of backups, Roethlisberger still doesn't exactly have one. The talk of Byron Leftwich re-joining Bruce Arians with the Colts has quieted down. Perhaps Arians wasn't as persuasive as everyone expected. If the money is close, my prediction is Leftwich will come back to the Steelers.

BENGALS: The team's biggest needs heading into the draft are wide receiver, guard and cornerback. As the team's official website pointed out, taking a guard or wide receiver doesn't follow a trend. The Bengals have never drafted a guard in the first round, and they have selected only one wide receiver (A.J. Green) the first round during the Marvin Lewis era. Hensley's slant: I would be surprised if the Bengals didn't take a guard in the first round. If Stanford's David DeCastro falls to the Bengals at No. 17, it will be difficult for Cincinnati to pass on him. Georgia's Cordy Glenn would be a candidate for the Bengals' second first-round pick (No. 21).

BROWNS: Only three of the Browns' 83 draft picks from 1999 to 2008 remain with the team, according to the Canton Repository. Some of the first-round picks who had short runs with the Browns include: quarterback Tim Couch, running back William Green, center Jeff Faine, tight end Kellen Winslow, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and quarterback Brady Quinn. The lack of success in the draft has translated to a lack of success on the field. The Browns are 18-46 in the past four seasons. Hensley's slant: In two drafts with general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns have found some picks to stick, especially on defense. Taking cornerback Joe Haden, safety T.J. Ward, defensive tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Jabaal Sheard in the first two rounds has started a strong foundation for the future. Now, Heckert has to start adding stronger pieces to the offense.

RAVENS: Lardarius Webb told the Baltimore Sun that he considers himself one of the top five corners in the NFL, but he realizes that he needs to prove it for an extended period to be placed in the same class as Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey. “There are plenty of things that I can do better,” Webb said. “I can be an All Pro. I can make the Pro Bowl. I can get nine [interceptions]. There are a lot of things that I can do to improve my game. Money doesn’t change what I want to be in life. I want to go to Canton. I want to be the best to ever play cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens.” Hensley's slant: No one should take anything away from Webb, who had an outstanding season last year. He didn't allow a touchdown and made eight interceptions (including three in the postseason). Still, Jimmy Smith should emerge as the No. 1 corner on the Ravens if he reaches his potential over the next season or two.