AFC North: Ohio State University

Blogger draft recap

April, 22, 2009
4/22/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

ESPN.com held its first annual Blog Network NFL draft this week. The results were posted on Wednesday, and you can find all the results here.

But fear not, AFC North fans. Your division had the best general manager in the business.

We landed the top-rated offensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, the top pass-rusher for the Cleveland Browns, one of the top receivers and a local product for the Baltimore Ravens and the best center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here is how it all broke down:

  Orakpo

Cleveland Browns

Pick No. 5: Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas

Why: After sending smoke screens in every direction possible, this is the guy we really wanted in Cleveland. We are smart enough to know that the AFC North is about defense first and having players who can pressure the quarterback. Orakpo is the best at that in this draft. Plus, he will make fellow linebacker Kamerion Wimbley a better player, so we feel like we're getting two players in this deal. We're glad Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree was taken one spot higher, because we never wanted to take him this high and the fact that he was off the board will keep the media off our backs.

  Smith

Cincinnati Bengals

Pick No. 6: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Why: We are still a little shocked by this one. Going in we didn't feel drafting Smith was a possibility for Cincinnati, but it shows how unpredictable draft day can be. Smith was the top player on our board for the Bengals, both because of need and talent. To land this left tackle at No. 6 was a great achievement. We thought Virginia's Eugene Monroe had a chance to fall at this spot. But NFC West GM Mike Sando must be down on Smith, because he passed him over twice with the St. Louis Rams at No. 2 and the Seattle Seahawks at No. 4. Because of Sando, Smith just told our coaching staff he's arriving in Cincinnati with a chip on his shoulder, which is what we like to hear.

  Heyward-Bey

Baltimore Ravens

Pick No. 26: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

Why: Right around pick 20, we got a little nervous. We contacted all blogger GMs saying we wanted to trade up from No. 26, and I had $20 in my pocket to do it. NFC East GM Matt Mosley laughed out loud and took Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells with the No. 21 pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. True story. But with USC linebacker Rey Maualuga off the board, the only player we really coveted at this point was Heyward-Bey. Luckily he got past teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. Their loss is Baltimore's gain.

  Mack

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick No. 32: Alex Mack, C, California

Why: Things panned out just as expected for Pittsburgh. Every top center was available with the final pick in the first round, so we took the highest one on our draft board in Mack. He will help improve our running game and should give us some options up front to move players around. Or we can simply let Mack learn the system before taking over permanently at center in 2010, when starter Justin Hartwig becomes a free agent.

Overall, we hope AFC North readers are happy with their picks. Let's see if the real NFL draft turns out just as well this weekend.

Morning take: Super rematch

March, 31, 2009
3/31/09
7:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC North:

  • In a Super Bowl rematch, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason opener at Heinz Field.

Morning take: Picking up where he left off, our guess is Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes has a huge first quarter against the Cards.

Morning take: With Ocho Cinco's silence this offseason, it's unclear what this means for Cincinnati. But following last year's circus, this could be a situation to monitor.

  • The preseason slate for the Cleveland Browns includes home games against the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions.

Morning take: With a possible quarterback competition looming between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, these will be meaningful exhibition games for Cleveland.

  • Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells is scheduled to visit the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday.

Morning take: This isn't an area of need and the chances of Wells falling to No. 26 are slim. But if Baltimore cares to trade up ...

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