AFC North: Michael Brockers



ESPN's Todd McShay offered up his sixth version Insider of the mock draft. You'll need a subscription to view the entire Insider piece, but here's the AFC North part of it:

4. Cleveland Browns

Pick: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

Hensley's comment: I've been on board with this pick for a while. The Browns need someone to build the offense around, and Richardson is an Adrian Peterson-type running back. He's the best offensive player on the board after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and he fills a pressing need for Cleveland.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: DT Michael Brockers, LSU

Hensley's comment: This pick surprised me because Brockers looks to be suited for a 3-4 defense and the Bengals have two productive tackles in Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. In looking at the players available at this spot in McShay's mock, I would've gone with North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. He would make an immediate impact in the pass rush.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech

Hensley's comment: The Bengals need a No. 2 wide receiver, so this is a necessary selection. I might have gone with Baylor's Kendall Wright only because he will contribute more this season. Hill has the potential to be the better receiver, but he will need time to develop. He's a raw prospect.

22. Cleveland Browns

Pick: G-T Cordy Glenn, Georgia

Hensley's comment: There will be clamoring that the Browns have to take a wide receiver here. Cleveland, though, can't ignore right tackle. The decision could come down to Glenn or Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

Hensley's comment: This remains one of the more popular pairings in the first round. But I don't think this is a slam-dunk one. The Steelers could take outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw or an offensive lineman here.

29. Baltimore Ravens

Pick: OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

Hensley's comment: The Ravens would be extremely happy with this pick. Upshaw takes over for Jarret Johnson, who left in free agency, and upgrades Baltimore's pass rush. There has been some talk of the Ravens trading up to get Upshaw.
Our ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter put down his BlackBerry for a few minutes to address the Steelers' draft in his latest mailbag Insider. This is what Schefter had to say when asked about Pittsburgh's priority in the draft:
This draft is so deep at defensive tackle that it's easy to see the Steelers looking in that direction on draft day. The one thing about Pittsburgh's defense is that it's aging, quickly -- the Steelers need an infusion of youth and talent. Then again, they also could use some reinforcements to help protect Ben Roethlisberger. But the needs along the defensive line would seem to be the most pressing and if there's a bona fide prospect available, Pittsburgh could pounce on him.

There's no question that the Steelers have depth issues on the defensive line. Nose tackle Casey Hampton (ACL) might start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would sideline him for the first six games. Defensive end Aaron Smith was released and longtime backup nose tackle Chris Hoke retired.

According to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Insider, the top defensive tackles in the draft are: Memphis' Dontari Poe, LSU's Michael Brockers, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe. Poe and Cox are expected to be drafted before the Steelers pick at No. 24. Most mock drafts have the Steelers taking Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower in the first round.
ESPN's Todd McShay offered the fourth version of his 2012 mock draftInsider this week. Here's a look at the AFC North part of it:

4. Cleveland Browns

Version 1.0: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Version 2.0: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Version 3.0: Richardson

Version 4.0: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Hensley's comment: I agree with version 3.0 more than 4.0. Blackmon doesn't have the speed that the Browns really need at wide receiver. That's why the Browns should go with Richardson at this spot.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

Version 1.0: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Version 2.0: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Version 3.0: Kirkpatrick

Version 4.0: DeCastro

Hensley's comment: It will be a tough decision for the Bengals if DeCastro and Kirkpatrick are still available at this spot. DeCastro would make more of an immediate impact for the Bengals, who have done a nice job of adding veteran cornerbacks this offseason.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Version 1.0: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Version 2.0: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

Version 3.0: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

Version 4.0: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Hensley's comment: If the Bengals want to take a cornerback here, the choice is between Gilmore or Janoris Jenkins. While Jenkins has better coverage skills, Gilmore doesn't have the same character issues as Jenkins. Don't rule out a wide receiver at this spot either.

22. Cleveland Browns

Version 1.0: Kevin Reddick, OLB, North Carolina

Version 2.0: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Version 3.0: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Version 4.0: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Hensley's comment: Version 4.0 is a better prediction than Brockers, because the Browns have a big need at right tackle. But there are concerns, because Adams lacks a mean streak, which is a must-have in the AFC North. The Browns might wait until the second round to take a right tackle.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Version 1.0: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Version 2.0: Adams

Version 3.0: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Version 4.0: Hightower

Hensley's comment: This still seems like a no-brainer to me. Hightower would step into the void left by James Farrior. Pittsburgh could also take an offensive lineman or cornerback in the first round.

29. Baltimore Ravens

Version 1.0: Adams

Version 2.0: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State

Version 3.0: Peter Konz, C-G, Wisconsin

Version 4.0: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Hensley's comment: There is a definite need at safety. Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard are entering the final years of their contact, and longtime backups Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura signed elsewhere this offseason. Smith, who had been pegged as a second-round pick, has been rising up boards recently. I'm just not completely sold on his playmaking ability.

SPONSORED HEADLINES