AFC North: Michael Floyd



Most assume the Cleveland Browns will take running back Trent Richardson with the fourth overall pick. But, at this point, the Browns can't assume he's going to be available when they're on the clock.

The Minnesota Vikings could be the Browns' worst enemy because they're apparently shopping the third overall pick.

One team that the Browns apparently don't have to worry about is the New York Jets. A day after speculation started that the Jets could be interested in trading up 13 spots to take Richardson, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported Thursday that there is a "zero-point-zero percent chance" the Jets will make such a move.

A bigger threat to take Richardson away from the Browns is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who currently have the No. 5 pick. This would be an easier trade to work out, but the Buccaneers might not be willing to give up any picks. Tampa Bay has several needs and only six draft choices.

Another team to watch is the St. Louis Rams, who are at No. 6. ESPN's Todd McShay estimated that there's a 20 percent chance that the Rams would trade up for Richardson.

"They are infatuated with Trent Richardson," McShay told ESPN's "Mike & Mike In the Morning", "and would at least consider it or try to see if they would get a good deal to move up."

If a team trades up to get Richardson, the Browns will have an opportunity to move down because there will teams interested to move up for offensive tackle Matt Kalil. According to the NFL Network, the Buffalo Bills are thinking of jumping from No. 10 to get Kalil and would give up their second-round pick (41st overall) to do so (which would almost satisfy the draft-pick value chart). The Browns could fall back to that spot and get Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.

It's also possible that the Browns don't care if Richardson is there or not. Cleveland could be targeting Oklahoma wide receiver Justin Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 4. In that scenario, the Browns would take a running back like Boise State's Doug Martin with their second first-round pick (22nd overall) or their second-round one (No. 37).
As this blog gets posted, it's officially 12 hours before the first round of the NFL draft begins. This will be a special edition of "Wake-up Call" where we survey what the local beat writers are predicting for the teams in the division.

Everyone in the division believes the Browns will take running back Trent Richardson at No. 4 except the Browns' beat reporter. Likewise, everyone has the Browns take wide receiver Kendall Wright with the 22nd overall pick except the Browns' reporter.

There were a few surprises in these mock drafts. Two reporters had wide receiver Michael Floyd sliding to the Bengals at No. 17, and two reporters had the Ravens taking offensive tackle Mike Adams, who reportedly tested positive for marijuana.

Here are the mock drafts from the local reporters:

Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer

4. Browns: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

17. Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

21. Bengals: DE-OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

22. Browns: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

24. Steelers: NT Dontari Poe, Memphis

29. Ravens: G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin


Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland Plain Dealer

4. Browns: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

17. Bengals: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

21. Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

22. Browns: RB Doug Martin, Boise State

24. Steelers: ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

29. Ravens: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State


Matt Vensel, Baltimore Sun

4. Browns: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

17. Bengals: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

21. Bengals: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

22. Browns: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

24. Steelers: G-T Cordy Glenn, Georgia

29. Ravens: ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama


Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

4. Browns: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

17. Bengals: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

21. Bengals: DE-LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

22. Browns: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

24. Steelers: NT Dontari Poe, Memphis

29. Ravens: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

To those Bengals fans who want the team to draft a wide receiver, you are not alone.

A.J. Green, the team’s first-round pick from a year ago and current No. 1 wideout, isn’t opposed to Cincinnati bringing in another target in the passing game.

“I hope so,” Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It would be nice to get someone else in here but if we don’t there are guys here who can step up. Whatever the team needs.”

The Bengals haven’t re-signed No. 2 wide receiver Jerome Simpson and have yet to add a wideout this offseason. Simpson received a three-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Hensley’s slant: Michael Floyd probably won’t slide into the bottom half of the first round, but the Bengals will have a chance to take a wide receiver with their second first-round pick (Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill) or their second-round one (Alshon Jeffery, Rueben Randle).

BROWNS: Wide receiver-returner Josh Cribbs was cited for driving 103 mph in a 60-mph zone last month, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cribbs addressed this on his Twitter account: “Yes I was pulled over for speeding, going too fast, luckily the police were on the job. Wasn't going that fast the entire time obviously but wrong is wrong, gotta face the music just like anyone else:(." Cribbs added, “Much Respect to the police officers who pulled me over! I will lead better on the road now as well as on & off the field!!!" Cribbs is scheduled to appear in court May 4. Hensley’s slant: Cribbs is the latest NFL player to go well over the speed limit (you should read about the reported high-speed caravan that included running back Brandon Jacobs). What Cribbs did was dangerous, but you have to be impressed with how he took responsibility for his actions.

RAVENS: The team believes it learned a lesson in drafting a wide receiver after finding success with Torrey Smith, a second-round pick from a year ago. “I think with Torrey, one of the biggest things is that he’s wired right,” director of player personnel Eric DeCosta told the team’s website. “Mentally, this is a guy who grew up in a tough environment. He grew up under difficult circumstances.” The oldest of seven children, Smith helped raise his siblings while his single mother attended community college during the day and worked at night. Before his last season at Maryland, Smith was once again parenting his younger siblings because his mother was locked up for six months after a family dispute turned violent. Hensley’s slant: Drafting productive wide receivers have been tough over the years for the Ravens, who have missed on such high picks as Travis Taylor, Patrick Johnson and Mark Clayton. The Ravens will see if they truly have learned about that position because they should take another wide receiver in this draft. I could see them taking a wide receiver-returner in the middle rounds.

STEELERS: General manager Kevin Colbert said 98 percent of the Steelers’ work for the draft is complete. He wouldn't discuss specific players but did speak to the team's draft philosophy. "Need is not a good word," Colbert said at the Steelers pre-draft press conference, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's 'want.' We want players. We don't necessarily need. We try to add from within. The subtractions we made were substantial from a leadership standpoint. We talked about that before. That will be replaced -- we don't know by whom or how long [it will take]. Coach [Mike] Tomlin will make a final decision of when a guy plays, but, quite honestly, there are not a lot of players in this draft that can come in and be immediate impact guys for us." Hensley's slant: Like it or not, the Steelers need offensive linemen, linebackers and cornerbacks. It would be surprising if Pittsburgh's first-round pick didn't address one of these positions.
At least four teams have called the Cleveland Browns about the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft, sources told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

One of the teams believed to be in the mix is the St. Louis Rams. That would mean dropping to No. 6. Just say no. Why? The Browns can say goodbye to an elite offensive playmaker in running back Trent Richardson if they trade down. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would immediately grab Richardson at No. 5.

Another potential trade partner is the Philadelphia Eagles. This would require the Browns to fall to No. 15. Cleveland really has to say no to this one. Why? It's a pipe dream to think wide receiver Michael Floyd is going to be available at this spot. He's going to get drafted by Buffalo (No. 10) or Arizona (No. 13).

The top offensive prospects who should be on the board in the middle of the first round are guard David DeCastro and wide receiver Kendall Wright. Two additional second-round picks are not worth this dropoff. Plus, general manager Tom Heckert indicated 17 days ago that the Browns would consider falling back as far as No. 8. The Eagles' spot is out of that range.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Browns shouldn't trade back. They need playmakers, not picks. Their draft should be based on quality, not quantity.

Still, there's a good chance that the Browns will trade back. Heckert's track record shows he likes to acquire extra picks. And, as ESPN Insider Bill Polian pointed out, Mike Holmgren's teams often find their running backs later in the draft or through free agency.

But Richardson is one of those special types of backs. He has the toughness to excel in a division like the AFC North and he has the potential to immediately affect an offense like Adrian Peterson did.

If Holmgren doesn't believe me, he should consult with his good friend and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden before thinking of trading back.

“The easiest thing to do is turn around and hand the ball to somebody 300 times a year,” Gruden said in a conference call. “Everybody says, ‘Don’t take a running back. You can get those guys in the fifth, sixth or seventh round.' You go try to find Trent Richardson in the fifth, sixth or seventh round."

Gruden added, “He’s a beast. He broke all of Emmitt Smith’s high school rushing records in Florida. I’ve seen him run over people, run around people, he protects the ball, he can catch it, can pick up blitzes. He might be the strongest human being on the planet."

Just because teams are interested in the No. 4 pick doesn't mean the Browns should be interested in giving it up. Just say no.
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.
It's Super Bowl week, but there's always time to talk about the draft.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay offered his second version of his 2012 mock draft, with a draft order that projected the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 and 22 (from Atlanta), the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 17 (from Oakland) and 21, the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 24 and the Baltimore Ravens at No. 29.

You'll need an Insider subscription to view the entire draft, but 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

Hensley's comment: There's momentum building between the Browns and RG3. Some might question whether Griffin will still be on the board at this spot.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

Version 1.0: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Version 2.0: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Hensley's comment: It's no secret that coach Marvin Lewis puts a premium on young cornerbacks. The Bengals will need someone to eventually replace Nate Clements.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Version 1.0: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Version 2.0: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

Hensley's comment: Miller gives the Bengals what Cedric Benson couldn't -- big-play ability. The reason why Miller would be available this late in the first round is postseason shoulder surgery.

22. Cleveland Browns
Version 1.0: Kevin Reddick, OLB, North Carolina


Version
2.0: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Hensley's comment: The Browns definitely need a playmaker at wide receiver, and Floyd can run after the catch. But Cleveland needs speed, and Floyd isn't a burner. Still, it would very tempting if Floyd is available here.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Version 1.0: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Version 2.0: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Hensley's comment: The Steelers need to address either the offensive or defensive line in the first round. The one red flag on Adams is he reportedly lacks a nasty demeanor, which really won't work in the AFC North.


29. Baltimore Ravens

Version 1.0: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Version 2.0: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State

Hensley's comment: This appears to be the year where the Ravens need to find their heir apparent to Ray Lewis. As McShay points out, Burfict is a top-20 talent, but there are questions about his discipline on and off the field.

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