AFC North: Eric Reid

The AFC North blog is wrapping up team draft needs with safety, the one position that is a need for every team in the division. There are scenarios in which the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers take one as early as the first round.

Mel Kiper Jr's top five safeties in this draft class are: Texas' Kenny Vaccaro, Florida International's John Cyprien, Florida's Matt Elam, Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas and Georgia Southern's J.J. Wilcox.

Here are the rankings (the greater the need, the higher the ranking):

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Considering the handful of good safeties in this draft, it would be a disappointment if the Bengals failed to land a starter with three picks in the first two rounds. There's no excuse to rely on Chris Crocker, Taylor Mays or Jeromy Miles. The Bengals had a private workout Monday with Cyprien, who could be one of the top options for Cincinnati at No. 21.

2. Cleveland Browns: The Browns released Usama Young, last year's starting free safety, earlier this month. Tashaun Gipson and Eric Hagg would compete for the spot if the Browns don't address it in the draft. In other words, the Browns would like to address safety in the draft. The problem is, the Browns have just one of the first 67 picks in the draft and they have multiple needs. Even though it's a need, Cleveland might not be able to land a starter in this draft.

3. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens parted ways with both starting safeties from the Super Bowl. Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans in free agency, and Bernard Pollard signed with the Tennessee Titans after being cut. The Ravens addressed one starting spot by signing Michael Huff and added a stopgap by keeping James Ihedigbo. But Baltimore would prefer to upgrade from Ihedigbo, a one-year starter for the Patriots who started three games for the Ravens last season. The Ravens have been linked to the likes of Elam, Cyprien and LSU's Eric Reid.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are likely the only team who will start the same two safeties from a year ago. But that doesn't mean the Steelers will ignore the safety position in the draft. Troy Polamalu, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, is 32 and has only played one full season in the past four years. Ryan Clark turns 34 during the season and is entering the final year of his contract. Plus, the Steelers lost their two top backups, Will Allen and Ryan Mundy, in free agency. The Steelers will have to consider Vaccaro if he somehow falls to them at No. 17.
So, you're tired of all the first-round mock drafts, and the three-round one by Mel Kiper, Jr. didn't satisfy you, either. Well, this seven-round mock draft Insider is the one for you. Scouts Inc. projects every pick in this week's draft. It's an Insider post, so you'll need a subscription to view pick by pick. But I can disclose the selections for each of the AFC North teams. Enjoy.


First round: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Third round: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Fourth round: Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon

Fifth round: Steve Williams, CB, California, and Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State

Sixth round: Alvin Bailey, G, Georgia

Seventh round: Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State

Hensley's comments: The Browns upgrade at tight end and find another potential franchise quarterback (this time, taking the Colt McCoy third-round route). The concern is the Browns failed to draft a starting cornerback or address the free safety spot.


First round: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Second round: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

Third round: Le'veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

Fourth round: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida

Fifth round: T.J. McDonald, S, USC

Sixth round: Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State, and Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue

Seventh round: Braden Brown, OT, BYU

Hensley's comments: Jones and Hopkins are considered risks for different reasons, but both address needs for the Steelers. Jones can step into James Harrison's spot, and Hopkins adds a physical presence to the wide receiver group. With Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer both scheduled to be free agents next year, Scouts Inc. has the Steelers taking a top-10 running back in Bell and a projected backup in Gillislee.


First round: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Second round: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State, and D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

Third round: Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers

Fourth round: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

Fifth round: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia

Sixth round: Rod Sweeting, CB, Georgia Tech, and Sean Renfree, QB, Duke

Seventh round: A.J. Klein, ILB, Iowa State, and John Lotulelei, ILB, UNLV

Hensley's comments: It would be a mild surprise for the Bengals to take Patterson in the first round considering the coaches' high hopes for Mohamed Sanu. The Bengals would get good value with Watson in the second round, especially if he's going to be the starting right tackle. I like the choices of the aggressive Swearinger and Lattimore, who could end up being the best running back of this draft.


First round: Eric Reid, S, LSU

Second round: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech

Third round: Jonathan Bostic, ILB, Florida

Fourth round: Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State, and Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State

Fifth round: Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA, and J.C. Tretter, G, Cornell

Sixth round: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State, Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State and Ryan Boyd, QB, Tulane

Seventh round: Jamoris Slaughter, S, Notre Dame, and Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame

Hensley's comments: The Ravens' three biggest needs are addressed with the first three picks. Reid would start right away, but Patton and Bostic might need more time to develop. Patton projects to be a No. 3 receiver, and Bostic has to become more consistent.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay put together a Mock 5.1 Insider. How is this different from his Mock 5.0? This one accounts for the Darrelle Revis trade and makes a major change for the Browns at No. 6. But this version is still Insider, so you'll need a subscription to view the entire post. As always, I can clue you in on the AFC North picks:

6. Cleveland Browns

McShay's pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Hensley's comment: I've questioned the value of taking a tight end like Eifert for the Steelers at No. 17. So, you can imagine my thoughts on taking Eifert at this spot. If you are sure Eifert is the next Rob Gronkowski, taking him in the top 10 makes some sense. The problem I have is the Browns passing on linebacker Dion Jordan and cornerback Dee Milliner. Jordan is a better prospect than Eifert and cornerback is a bigger need than tight end.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

McShay's pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Hensley's comment: Once again, McShay has the Steelers married to Jones. He sure fits the description of that explosive Steelers pass-rusher. This pick is an extremely logical one, even if other players are considered less of a medical risk. The Steelers need an heir apparent to James Harrison and need to add some spark to a pass rush that generated 37 sacks last season (tied for 15th in the NFL) and 35 sacks in 2011 (tied for 17th).

21. Cincinnati Bengals

McShay's pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Hensley's comment: McShay went away from putting cornerback Desmond Trufant at this spot and decided to throw a curveball with Patterson, who is a boom-or-bust type prospect. This would be a surprise because the Bengals continue to talk about their confidence in Mohamed Sanu to be the team's No. 2 wide receiver. The Bengals would prefer to have safety Kenny Vaccaro or offensive tackle D.J. Fluker fall to them, but McShay has both of them going in the top half of the draft.

32. Baltimore Ravens

McShay's pick: Eric Reid, S, LSU

Hensley's comment: Reid is generally considered the fourth-best safety prospect in the draft. He is a big-time hitter but there are questions whether he has the speed to hold up in deep coverage. The Ravens should take a safety early in this draft because I'm not sold on them going with James Ihedigbo as a starter.



Sunday, 1/25