- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has his first mock draft of the offseason.
Here is how Kiper sees the 2010 draft so far for the AFC North:
Pick: No. 7
Kiper's selection: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Analysis: Cleveland's draft direction is very unpredictable at this point with new president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert stepping into new roles. However, Haden is the highest-rated cornerback in the draft. The Browns have a lot of needs and a shutdown defensive back is one of them. Haden would allow Eric Wright to become Cleveland's second cornerback and move Brandon McDonald to the nickel, where McDonald played well earlier in his career.
Pick: No. 18
Kiper's selection: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Analysis: If no worthy cornerbacks are available, the Steelers could take a hard look at their offensive line. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes a ton of sacks, and some (not all) of the blame can be put on the players up front. The Steelers have passed up taking offensive lineman high in the draft recently. Kiper believes they are due in 2010.
Pick: No. 21
Kiper's selection: Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
Analysis: A big-play receiver would help Cincinnati's offense more. But unfortunately for the Bengals, this is not a deep year for receivers. So they may have to settle for another position, and tight end also is an area of need. Hernandez is arguably the best pass-catching tight end in the draft. I'm also told there's a good chance Hernandez will wow some teams at the NFL combine with his athleticism. So while his stock may be late-first round now, it could rise out of Cincinnati's reach in the next several months.
Pick: No. 25
Kiper's selection: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Analysis: I'm surprised Kiper sees two AFC North teams taking tight ends in the first round. Similar to the Bengals, I think receiver is Baltimore's biggest need on offense. Ravens starting tight end Todd Heap had a solid season in 2009. So Gresham would likely start next year as a backup if he joined the team. I think Baltimore's first-round pick could be better used at another position if the Ravens want an instant impact.