Thursday, January 14, 2010
Kiper's big board and AFC North
By James Walker
Our AFC North inbox is getting a lot of NFL draft questions now that three teams are preparing for the 2010 season.
To be honest, there is not much concrete draft insight to provide in mid-January. With undecided juniors, the Senior Bowl, the NFL combine and free agency still ahead, too much will change in the next several weeks.
But we aim to please here at the AFC North blog. So let's take a very early look at ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board and how it currently compares with draft slots within the division.
Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Pick: No. 7
Kiper's ranking: No. 5 Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, No. 6 Florida CB Joe Haden, No. 7 Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung, No. 8 Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan, No. 9 Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant
Early thoughts: One quarterback is in this group, and with new Browns president Mike Holmgren in charge, you can never rule out that position. I don't like taking receivers this high and the Browns don't need a left tackle. So of this group, my guess is Bradford would generate the most interest in Cleveland. But that would create a complex situation with 2007 first-round pick Brady Quinn. Holmgren said this week that he's still in the evaluation phase to determine whether Quinn is the long-term solution. Cornerback also is a position of need for Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)
Pick: No. 18
Kiper’s ranking: No. 16 USC DE Everson Griffen, No. 17 Tennessee DT Dan Williams, No. 18 Rutgers OT Anthony Davis, No. 19 USC S Taylor Mays, No. 20 Michigan DE Brandon Graham
Early thoughts: The Steelers are in a tricky spot. A lot can change in the coming weeks, but right now I think Pittsburgh would love to land a shutdown corner first and foremost, and there may not be one at No. 18. The Steelers also need to find a replacement sooner than later for Pro Bowl DT Casey Hampton, and adding Williams may not be a bad second option. Getting offensive line depth is important as well.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-7, including postseason)
Pick: No. 21
Kiper’s ranking: No. 19 S Mays, No. 20 Graham, No. 21 Texas LB Sergio Kindle, No. 22 Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham, No. 23 California RB Jahvid Best
Early thoughts: You can rule out defensive ends and linebackers, which are not needs for the Bengals. Cincinnati has a solid linebacking corps, and with Antwan Odom returning from an Achilles injury, I doubt the team cares to spend a first-round pick at defensive end. Bryant will be long gone. So no receiver stands out right now, although a strong combine or juniors declaring could change that. But Cincinnati should also keep its eye on Gresham at tight end. He could be a solid fit if no receiver catches the team's eye.