AFC North: NFL combine
- Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun writes about Nevada defensive end/linebacker Dontay Moch, who believes he's the next Terrell Suggs.
- Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Browns need to stay away from the combine hype.
- Geoff Hobson from the Cincinnati Bengals' website says the team remains adamant they are not trading franchise quarterback Carson Palmer.
- Steelers safety Ryan Clark told CBS radio in Pittsburgh that he hopes the team retains starting cornerback Ike Taylor.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for another late-round gem and have no concern drafting No. 31 overall.
- The Ravens have met with Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews twice, at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine.
- The Cincinnati Bengals are looking for defensive linemen.
- Will the Cleveland Browns go defense in the first round?
- Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says the team will interview Auburn quarterback Cam Newton at the NFL combine.
- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin both met with Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey in Indianapolis.
- The Steelers are likely to take a cornerback high in the NFL draft this year.
- Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren says he's looking for a "home-run hitter" at the NFL combine.
- The rebuilding Cincinnati Bengals enter the combine with a lot of needs.
- Receiver Donte' Stallworth is open to returning to the Baltimore Ravens.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers have a free-agent decision to make with 31-year-old cornerback Ike Taylor.
- Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth says quarterback Carson Palmer is "serious" about wanting a trade and had some other interesting comments.
- Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur and his staff are preparing for the NFL combine.
- Who are the top five draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history?
- The Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced they put the franchise tag on outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
- By the way, there are plenty of safeties available if any AFC North teams are interested.
- With free agency fast approaching, there are now reports that receiver Terrell Owens will not join the Cincinnati Bengals.
- Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton is getting closer to a long-term deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Therefore, I'm stepping up my Twitter game, starting with this week's NFL combine. Here is the link to follow all the action. You can also click on the Twitter logo to the right.
The AFC North blog will be the place to get in-depth combine coverage on the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. But I also will post additional nuggets, information and observations via Twitter for those wanting even more insight.
So if you're not already following the AFC North blog on Twitter, now is a great time to start. I highly recommend it.
- Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham is looking forward to showing scouts what he can do at this week's NFL combine.
- The Ravens hired new outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino.
The NFL combine is this week, so I'm sure the draft will be a heavy topic of conversation. We can also discuss anything else pertaining to the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here is the link.
Cleveland Browns are the only AFC North team I can envision making a run at Peppers. But even then, chances aren't good that Peppers lands in this division.
- Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Carnell Lake resigned as UCLA's secondary coach for family reasons.
Bobbie Williams and Kyle Cook.
So let's get to some questions.
Justin from Pittsburgh asks "why is everyone so high on Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen?"
Walker: To my knowledge, thoughts on Clausen are all over the place, Justin. Some NFL scouts really like him, some don't. Without a strong quarterback class this year, Clausen could be a first-round pick. But right now I'm not particularly high on him in terms of being in the top 10. I could warm up to Clausen during this draft process, but we'll see. I just don't feel he's a sure thing, which is what you need in a first-round quarterback. Otherwise, an organization could suffer for years.
Jim Kara from Anaheim, Calif., writes: Do you have any idea who the Cleveland Browns will be drafting with this year's draft? Do you really think they will take someone like Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with any of their choices?
Walker: The Browns are in position to take the best available player, which makes predicting their draft tough this year. Reportedly, they are high on Florida cornerback Joe Haden, which makes sense. But before the combine and free agency, it's probably too early to predict at this point. I doubt Tebow is seriously on Cleveland's radar -- at least not high in the draft. General manager Tom Heckert recently had a lot of great things to say about Tebow, but every GM will do the same publicly leading up to the draft.
Sean McMann from Pittsburgh writes: Say both Dez Bryant and Mardy Gilyard both, for some miracle reason fall, in the draft to the Bengals. Who do you think they should go for in that situation?
Walker: Bryant with no hesitation. Gilyard should be available at No. 21. But right now I feel that is too high for him.
Dave from Cleveland writes: What do you think about the possibility of Colt McCoy dropping into the second round and the Browns possibly drafting him there?
Walker: It’s very possible McCoy could land in the second round, Dave. But McCoy is another quarterback I would be hesitant to draft too high. As you can tell, I'm pretty down on this year's QB class in general. Recent players like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez have raised the bar so high with their early success that teams will feel pressured to play these rookie quarterbacks right away. Of the group, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is the only rookie I feel might be ready to step in next season. But he has some questions (shoulder injury) as well.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
It started with the suspension for Alabama's bowl game. It continued when Smith unexpectedly left February's NFL combine. Then his private workout was considered average at best by scouts and onlookers. Smith also fired his agent once and reportedly is in the middle of more agent drama.
But through all the recent turmoil and bad choices, Smith's talent on the field made him the sixth overall pick by Cincinnati. Drafting that high, the Bengals will invest approximately $50 million in Smith, whose main job is to protect franchise quarterback Carson Palmer from another season-ending injury.
Is Smith worth the risk? The Bengals think so. They recently cut starting left tackle Levi Jones, which all but assures Smith will start right away.
If Smith plays well this year, people will quickly forget the recent missteps. But if Smith struggles or doesn't pan out, many will wonder why the Bengals ignored some of the early red flags during the draft process.
Honorable mention: The Cleveland Browns held the fifth overall pick, and instead of making a big splash, they traded down three times to take University of California center Alex Mack. By most accounts, Mack was the best center in the draft. But the fact that Cleveland could've taken more highly-touted players at the top of the draft board certainly puts pressure on Mack to perform. The New York Jets traded places with the Browns and took USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. If Sanchez proves to be a quality franchise quarterback, something Cleveland hasn't had since Bernie Kosar, the Browns could hear about this deal down the road.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
With free agency starting in less than 12 hours, we thought it was best to provide another insider's look at what's currently going on within the AFC North division.
|Fernando Medina/US PRESSWIRE|
|Will the Browns keep or trade QB Derek Anderson?|
- Things are extremely quiet on the Derek Anderson front and we're being told that the Cleveland Browns weren't even actively shopping him at the NFL combine last week. The Browns would be open to trade possibilities if the right deal came along. But as of right now, teams in need of quarterbacks are not interested until the Browns pay the guaranteed $5 million bonus due March 13. Once that bonus is paid, the phones should ring more often and it will be up to the Browns whether to keep or trade Anderson after already paying that huge bounty.
- Speaking of contract negotiations, the Baltimore Ravens have had serious discussions this past week in regards to both linebacker Bart Scott and center Jason Brown. It looks like Scott is the leader of the two at the moment. It is unlikely the Ravens will be able to keep both players and Ray Lewis in house for 2009.
- The depletion of the cornerback market is not helping the Pittsburgh Steelers. Players such as Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Dunta Robinson of the Houston Texans were taken off the market last week. This continues to climb Pittsburgh's Bryant McFadden to the top of the list of available corners and will make it even more difficult to sign in free agency.
- As we noted in this space Wednesday, Cincinnati Bengals free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh will have no shortage of suitors starting tomorrow. Noticeably absent from our long list was Cincinnati. Despite coach Marvin Lewis' claims to keep Houshmandzadeh, most people around the league do not believe the Bengals will compete with the type of money Houshmandzadeh will command on the open market. Therefore, we kept the Bengals off the list. Cincinnati has a history of backing down from bidding wars with its own quality players. The most recent examples include guard Eric Steinbach, defensive end Justin Smith and safety Madieu Williams. Next week you can add "Housh" to the list.