AFC North: Jahvid Best

Everyone in our community is excited following the conclusion of the 2011 NFL draft.

On paper, all four teams did well. But we won't know for sure until these rookies hit the field.

With that said, here are some interesting comments from AFC North blog readers following the 2010 NFL draft.


Cleveland Browns
  • "Somebody tell me why I should like this T.J. Ward pick? Don't get it. I know we need a safety, but who is this guy?"
  • "I liked Taylor Mays a lot better. He's much bigger and much faster. Probably the best all-around athlete in the draft. You can't teach size or speed, but you can teach a kid how to cover better and how to tackle better. Mays' ceiling is infinite, while Ward's is not."
  • "Love this pick. Montario Hardesty runs mean and nasty like Jamal Lewis did. Very solid back, better than Jahvid Best."
Pittsburgh Steelers
  • "I knew Kyle Wilson was the real deal. He jumps off the screen the way he attacks and plays downhill all the time. I'm still irked he's not gonna be wearing black and gold. Maurkice Pouncey will be good, I hope. Because if he isn't, I'll be ticked if Wilson is as good as advertised."
  • "I was just doing some research, and Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth round? What an unbelievable steal."
  • "Essentially by trading a fifth-round pick for Bryant McFadden and Arizona's sixth-rounder, which was used for Jonathan Dwyer, the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes for McFadden and Dwyer. I love it."
Cincinnati Bengals
  • "Jordan Shipley won't contribute immediately. I keep harping on this, but we're gonna see how much we really missed here with Eric Decker."
  • "I'll say this and then I have to go: Brandon Ghee will be a star for the Bengals."
  • "The Cincinnati Bengals now have the deepest receiving corps in the league by far."
  • "I don't know who your team is but they can't beat the Bengals' receiving corps. Maybe when they make cuts in training camp your team can pickup Bengals' scraps."
Baltimore Ravens
  • "Sergio Kindle will start in more Pro Bowls than Tim Tebow will start regular-season games."
  • "The only beef I have with the Browns' draft is passing on Sergio Kindle in favor of T.J. Ward. This one will come back to bite 'em. They could have taken Ward later on. Kindle is going to be a force and Ozzie Newsome will be dubbed a genius the way he has handled the draft over the years."
  • "Kindle and Terrell Suggs rushing from either side while Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody clog up the middle. It's gonna be nice."
  • "I think our division had the best draft of all divisions and the competition in our division will once again be great. The Ravens look like they will win the division and I am going to say the Browns will surprise some people this year. Depending on how long Ben Roethlisberger's suspension turns out to be either 4 or 6 games, Pitt might be third or maybe last in the division this year."

Remember last year?

AFC North preseason observations

August, 29, 2010
Here are observations from Saturday night's preseason action in the AFC North:

Bills 35, Bengals 20

The Good
  • Cincinnati's first-team offense doubled its touchdown output this preseason with two touchdown drives. With new faces like Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals' offense has been a work in progress. It showed positive signs against Buffalo as quarterback Carson Palmer connected on touchdown passes to Gresham and receiver Chad Ochocinco. Palmer had his best preseason game to date, completing 9 of 11 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Bengals starting tailback Cedric Benson also had his best game of the preseason. He rushed for 50 yards on eight carries. Benson is running hard, but hasn't found many holes in limited carries this preseason. He finally broke off a nice run of 20 yards against Buffalo and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
The Bad
  • The Bengals allowed too many points to a Buffalo offense that's not very good. Rookie tailback C.J. Spiller rushed for two first-half touchdowns, giving the Bills a 21-7 lead at intermission. Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was near-perfect, completing 13 of 17 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati's defense was often one step behind Buffalo's offense Saturday. Expect Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to get after his unit in practice this week.
  • The Bengals have been sloppy with penalties, an issue that plagued them last season and has continued in the preseason. Cincinnati recorded 12 penalties for 122 yards, which is high even for a preseason game. Cincinnati cannot expect to suddenly "turn it on" and play smarter when games count in the standings.
Ravens 24, Giants 10

The Good
  • Baltimore's first-team offense came alive in the "dress rehearsal" game. Quarterback Joe Flacco recorded a preseason-high 229 passing yards. He drilled two nice touchdown passes to tight end Todd Heap and receiver Anquan Boldin in the red zone, an area Baltimore wants to be more efficient passing the football. The Ravens also want to spread the ball around, and 10 receivers caught passes Saturday.
  • Heap looks great. He led Baltimore Saturday with six catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Competition has clearly brought out the best in Heap after the Ravens drafted two tight ends in April. This is also the healthiest Heap has been to start the season in years.
The Bad
  • Baltimore suffered a major injury as receiver Donte' Stallworth broke his foot and is expected to miss about two months. Stallworth, who was out of football in 2009, had a solid training camp and was expected to be a good addition to Baltimore’s receiving corps. Backups Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams will have to play well in reserve roles.
  • The Ravens' third-down conversions could still use improvement. Baltimore's offense moved the ball well, but was just 4-of-15 on third downs.
Lions 35, Browns 27

The Good
  • Cleveland's first-team offense was productive. The Browns scored 17 offensive points in the first half. (Cleveland's starting defense also scored a first-half touchdown.) Starting quarterback Jake Delhomme was accurate for the third straight exhibition game. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. For the preseason, Delhomme has thrown for 345 yards, two touchdowns and completed 79.2 percent of his passes. He's done a good job of erasing concerns about him heading into the regular season.
  • The Browns have a nice find in running back Peyton Hillis. Acquired in the Brady Quinn trade with the Denver Broncos, Hillis showed his versatility with 40 receiving yards and 26 yards rushing and a touchdown. But what stood out most was Hillis' regular-season intensity. He broke through arm tackles and bullied Detroit defenders. Hillis is Cleveland’s leading rusher through three preseason games.
The Bad
  • For the second week in a row, the Browns were too careless with the football. Cleveland fumbled four times, losing three. Running back Jerome Harrison's fumble in the second quarter was returned 14 yards for a touchdown. Last week Cleveland played in rainy conditions, but this time there were no excuses for putting the ball on the ground in a dome. The Browns have eight turnovers in their past two preseason games. They have to play smarter and more efficient to have a chance to climb out the basement of the AFC North.
  • Cleveland's defense was gashed by the Lions. Detroit rookie Jahvid Best zipped through the Browns’ first-team defense for 51 yards on his first carry, which was a sweep left. Cleveland's tackling and defensive fundamentals were not sharp, particularly against the run. The Lions rushed for 154 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

AFC North mailbag

March, 2, 2010
After spending the past several days at the NFL combine, let's get to some questions.

Kovacs from Santa Monica wants to know if Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is a potential fit for the Cleveland Browns.

James Walker: The Browns are searching for quarterbacks, but Campbell is not one of them, Kovacs. Campbell struggled to handle Jim Zorn's West Coast-based offense in Washington. The Browns have yet to confirm or reach a consensus within their team, but it's likely their offense will have a lot of the same West Coast principles.

Adam from Baltimore writes: Wouldn't Tim Tebow make a good fit for the Baltimore Ravens? I saw you rated the draft possibility as "low." But considering they need to fill a tight end spot and Troy Smith wants out, I feel drafting Tebow could kill two birds with one stone.

Walker: Thanks for the question, Adam. I attended Tebow's combine interview in Indianapolis, and he made it clear that he wants to be drafted as a quarterback. Why else would Tebow be working so hard to improve his mechanics? Plus, you have to block often to play tight end in the physical AFC North and that's an awful fit. (Tebow versus Aaron Smith or Haloti Ngata? I don't think so.) Right now draft projections have Tebow anywhere between the second and third round, and Baltimore has too many other needs like receiver, tight end and cornerback to spend such a high pick on a second- or third-string quarterback.

Ken from Long Beach, CA, wants to know if the Cincinnati Bengals have any interest in a running back like Jahvid Best from the University of California.

Walker: The Bengals are set at running back this year, Ken. Cedric Benson gained more than 1,200 yards and the team likes the potential of 2009 draft pick Bernard Scott. I anticipate that being Cincinnati's tailback pairing going into next season. The Bengals need to work on improving their passing game via the draft and free agency more than anything.

Brian from Holly Springs, NC, writes: Interesting comment about the Pittsburgh Steelers wheeling and dealing. Do you see a possibility of them moving up to try and grab Florida cornerback Joe Haden?

Walker: Pittsburgh has proven that all things are possible on draft day. The Steelers have recently moved up and down the draft board on a given year. So I wouldn't rule out Pittsburgh moving up a few spots from No. 18 to get someone it really likes. Haden likely remains a top 10 pick even with an average workout Tuesday. He probably will have a better Pro Day on his turf and his terms. So Haden could be too costly to move up. But if a player drops somewhere in that 12-15 range that the Steelers feel is a top 10 talent, that's more likely.