Monday, April 30, 2012
Wake-up: Big Ben 'excited' about OL picks
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave a thumbs-up to the team using its first two draft picks on offensive linemen.
Pittsburgh drafted guard David DeCastro in the first round and offensive tackle Mike Adams in the second round. Roethlisberger said the team kept him "in the loop a little bit" about the selections.
"I'm excited,'' Roethlisberger told the Altoona (Pa.) Mirror before the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "You know, at least on paper, it looks awesome. But, you never know until you take the field and the bullets start flying.
Hensley's slant: There's a good reason for Roethlisberger's excitement. He has ranked in the top five in getting sacked for five of the past six seasons. The only time he didn't was 2010, the year he was suspended for four games. It was clear that the Steelers' draft focus was protecting Roethlisberger.
BENGALS: Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict was disappointed that he didn't get drafted but it apparently didn't hurt his confidence level. “I know that I’m a first-, second-round pick and the Bengals got a steal in the draft because nobody drafted me," Burfict told the Arizona State Press. Hensley's slant: Burfict was once considered a first-round prospect until maturity concerns and a terrible NFL combine performance caused him to plummet down draft boards. In previous years, the Bengals might have used a draft pick on a player with maturity issues like Burfict. Signing him as an undrafted free agent is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Bengals, who are thin at linebacker.
BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Bud Shaw thinks the Browns should part ways with quarterback Colt McCoy after drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round. "The Browns can't be expected to win immediately with Weeden under center in the West Coast offense, particularly since he's unaccustomed to both -- being under center and the West Coast offense," Shaw wrote. "The last thing Weeden needs is dealing with McCoy's incumbency in a sentimental football city housing convincing arguments claiming he never really got a chance." Hensley's slant: The Browns don't have the luxury right now to make football decisions based on public relations. The team must believe McCoy is a better quarterback than Seneca Wallace or else it wouldn't have started McCoy last season. That's why the smart decision is to keep McCoy as the backup to Weeden.
RAVENS: The Ravens' draft board got uncharacteristically wiped out, according to the team's official website. By the end of the three-day event, all but three of the team's top 150 players were selected. And Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said those three remaining players had medical concerns. “Things don’t always happen the way you want them to,” DeCosta said. “Some drafts, every player that you want kind of comes to you, and then other drafts – this year comes to mind; 2010 was very similar to this year -- sometimes you just get wiped out. You have four players, and all of a sudden, boom they are gone.” Hensley's slant: The Ravens' 2010 draft won't go down as one of their best, but the team did find productive players in nose tackle Terrence Cody and tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and defensive tackle Art Jones. That's also the draft where Baltimore gambled on linebacker Sergio Kindle, who had several pre-draft red flags. He has yet to contribute since fracturing his skull in 2010 when he fell down two flights of stairs.