AFC North: Kyle Wilson

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.

Enjoy.

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?
Here are the most interesting stories Sunday in the AFC North:

  • Without calling out his twin brother by name, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan implied Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan really wanted cornerback Kyle Wilson, not Joe Haden.
Morning take: How's that for a little in-house controversy? Cleveland took Haden No. 7 overall, but it appears at least one person on the coaching staff preferred another corner.

  • Without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to get back to the running game.
Morning take: The Steelers needed to get back to running the football more consistently anyway. But Roethlisberger's suspension certainly heightens the urgency.

  • Former Texas linebacker and fourth-round pick Roddrick Muckelroy talked his way into impressing the Cincinnati Bengals.
Morning take: Some believe this could be a sleeper pick for the Bengals. They don't need linebackers right now but could use depth and develop young players down the road.
Morning take: It's a tremendous starting five but not an overly deep group. Health will be key this season.

Ravens: Broncos' offer too enticing

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
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Here is a little-known fact: Thursday marked the first time in franchise history that the Baltimore Ravens traded out of the first round.

Considering how much the Ravens value the draft, they needed a hefty offer to trade their top pick, and they got one from the Denver Broncos, according to Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Denver offer its second-, third- and fourth-round picks for Baltimore's selection at No. 25. The Broncos ended up making the controversial selection of quarterback Tim Tebow, which is a player they must have really wanted, considering the bounty.

"[Denver] made me an initial offer early [Thursday] morning, and after the draft unfolded, they kept increasing the offer," Newsome explained to reporters in Baltimore.

The Ravens now have seven picks in this year's draft after starting with just five following the Anquan Boldin trade.

The move didn't come without risks. The Ravens passed over quality prospects such as cornerback Kyle Wilson and defensive linemen Jared Odrick and Dan Williams. All three players could have been good additions for Baltimore at No. 25.

But this is considered a very deep draft and there are still plenty of quality players on the board. The Ravens will make their first pick of the draft Friday at No. 43 and also have the No. 57 overall pick in the second round.

"We've always felt that this was a draft that could be very beneficial to us if we could have multiple picks," Newsome said. "And now we have them."

Blogger mock analysis

April, 19, 2010
4/19/10
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Now that you've seen ESPN.com's 2010 blogger mock draft, I hope everyone is happy with the results. Thanks again for helping put together our NFL draft board, which I think was a smashing success.

Here is how it all broke down:

Cleveland Browns (No. 7)

Pick: Earl Thomas, safety, Texas

Analysis: Ideally, Tennessee safety Eric Berry was the player I wanted at No. 7. But I knew in the back of my mind chances weren't great. So I was already thinking of Plan B. Sure enough, AFC West blogger Bill Williamson took Berry off the board with the No. 5 pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, which could happen again on Thursday. Therefore, I stayed true to our draft board and selected Thomas, who is the next best safety and fills a huge need. His versatility and instincts would add a lot to Cleveland's defense, and you can already plug him in as a Week 1 starter.

Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 18)

Pick: Joe Haden, cornerback, Florida

Analysis: As the picks kept rolling in the first round, I began to get more and more excited about the prospect of landing Haden -- the draft's top cornerback -- for Pittsburgh at No. 18. Once Haden dropped into the teens, I hastily thought to pick up my cell phone to call bloggers Mike Sando and Matt Mosley to ask about trading up. But I temporarily forgot this was a mock draft. Otherwise, I probably would've written their blogs for a week in exchange for Pittsburgh to move up a few spots. But it turns out that wasn't needed. Teams like the New York Giants (thanks Mosley) and Tennessee Titans (thanks Paul Kuharsky) inexplicably passed over Haden and virtually gift-wrapped the steal of the draft to the Steelers. After a rough offseason, Pittsburgh finally catches a break.

Cincinnati Bengals (No. 21)

Pick: Jermaine Gresham, tight end, Oklahoma

Analysis: Both Gresham and safety Taylor Mays were available at No. 21. But in the end, Gresham was simply the best player available. The Bengals need more help scoring points on offense than they do with stopping opponents defensively. Gresham would be an instant starter for the Bengals. He was the second-rated player on our draft board behind receiver Dez Bryant, who went to the Denver Broncos at No. 11 and didn't fall the way some anticipated. But at this point, drafting a receiver was more of a luxury for the Bengals, not a need.

Baltimore Ravens (No. 25)

Pick: Jared Odrick, defensive lineman, Penn State

Analysis: As I was watching the draft board play out, I was getting really nervous for my final pick in the division. Odrick and cornerback Kyle Wilson were available at No. 24, and if the Philadelphia Eagles passed up both players, I would have a tough decision to make. But Mosley made a smart selection in taking Wilson for Philadelphia. It was a good value pick late in the first round after the Eagles traded cornerback Sheldon Brown to Cleveland. The move also made my decision to take Odrick a lot easier, considering he was the best player left on our board and Baltimore needs depth and youth on the defensive line.

So there are our four 2010 AFC North draft picks: Thomas, Haden, Gresham and Odrick.

Feel free to chime in on the results.
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers met with Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, who is a projected first-round pick.
Morning take: Readers of the blog know how I feel about Pittsburgh's need for a cornerback. I like Wilson, but will he be the best available player at No. 18? I'm not sure.

Morning take: Smith, a restricted free agent, has been unable to work out a trade with only a few weeks left in free agency. Urgency to get a starting opportunity elsewhere likely contributed to this move.

Morning take: It's no secret by now that Cleveland likes McCoy's accuracy. Is he the future quarterback of the Browns?

Morning take: I'm not making any firm predictions until at least training camp. But Chick Ludwig of the Cincinnati Enquirer is already on board with the Bengals.

Draft Watch: AFC North

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
12:00
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NFC Schemes/Themes: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: schemes and themes.

Baltimore Ravens

Theme: Getting vertical. The Ravens are dedicated to helping third-year quarterback Joe Flacco as much as possible. This will not be limited to the NFL draft. Baltimore also will explore free agency and the trade market in an effort to find receivers and tight ends who can stretch the field. Flacco has a very strong arm, but the Ravens were not able to throw deep enough last year. There is speculation that Baltimore could be in the market for veteran receivers such as Brandon Marshall (trade), Anquan Boldin (trade) and Terrell Owens (free agency). Baltimore holds the No. 25 overall pick. So options in the draft include speedy Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate, Arrelious Benn of Illinois and Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Cincinnati Bengals

Theme: Getting vertical. Cincinnati, like Baltimore, wants to improve the deep passing game. Was the problem in 2009 quarterback Carson Palmer or his supporting cast? For the first time in his career, Palmer struggled with deep accuracy. The struggle was highlighted down the stretch when Cincinnati lost four of its last five games. But other than receiver Chad Ochocinco, no one else was able to get behind the defense consistently. Look for the Bengals with the No. 21 pick to have similar targets with Baltimore, such as Gresham, Benn and Tate. Cincinnati also is rumored to be interested in Owens. Usually, the Bengals are not major players in free agency.

Cleveland Browns

Scheme: Adding West Coast principles. For Cleveland, it's all about scheme and philosophy this offseason. Although the Browns are being vague about the topic, there are a lot of internal discussions going on about the offensive side of the ball. Cleveland president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert both believe in the West Coast offense. Head coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll do not. At some point their schemes and principles will have to mesh to come up with Cleveland's new offense for 2010. But what does this mean for the quarterback? Do Brady Quinn's strengths match the West Coast system or the old offense under Mangini? Should the Browns find another quarterback? Will they draft West Coast-type receivers and tight ends? There are a lot of questions that need to be settled before Cleveland takes the field in September.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Theme: Plugging holes. For a team that missed the playoffs last season, the Steelers do not have a lot of glaring weaknesses. Pittsburgh is still a veteran-laden team that is in position to compete for a title if everyone stays healthy. Last year's absence of safety Troy Polamalu helped keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. This year's draft is about adding depth and plugging holes. Pittsburgh could use help at cornerback and depth on the offensive line, either at guard or tackle. The Steelers struggled in the red zone, so getting a physical presence on the offensive line could cure those ills. Idaho guard Mike Iupati would be a good fit. There are not a lot of top-flight cornerbacks available at No. 18, but Boise State's Kyle Wilson has impressed a lot of scouts and might be an option. Also, despite Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton's three-year extension, do not rule out Pittsburgh finding his heir apparent in this year's draft, which is rich with defensive linemen.

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