AFC North: Pro Day

Here are the latest happenings Friday evening in the AFC North:

Morning take: Steelers in Texas

March, 30, 2011
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North:

  • Several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including coach Mike Tomlin, were on hand for the University of Texas pro day this week.
Morning take: Texas cornerback Aaron Williams is the one prospect I keep hearing with Pittsburgh. He's physical and aggressive, which fits in well with the Steelers' defense. Cornerback also is a huge need for Pittsburgh.
Morning take: The Browns continue to show interest in quarterbacks. I'm convinced they will take one at some point in the draft to try to develop, despite their confidence in starter Colt McCoy.

  • The Baltimore Ravens also have taken a closer look at Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
Morning take: The Ravens do not have a backup quarterbacks under contract and could take one in the middle or later rounds. Baltimore also needs to sign a veteran, which is what it did last year with Marc Bulger.

  • Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones is auditioning to become the voice of the Aflac duck.
Morning take: Jones has always been interested in things a little outside the box. If Chad Ochocinco can try his luck at soccer and Tom Zbikowski can box this offseason, why not commercials for Jones?

Morning take: Will Bengals budge?

March, 17, 2011
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North: Morning take: History says the Bengals won't budge, but they've never been in this position with a franchise quarterback. With the lockout, Cincinnati cannot do anything but prepare for the draft. But the team should explore all avenues, including trade options, when the time is right.
Morning take: Bowers' recent knee surgery may be a concern for some teams, but the talent is certainly there. If he drops to Cleveland at No. 6, he could fill a huge need and be a good addition to Dick Jauron's 4-3 defense.
Morning take: Sharing the same training facility, the Steelers should have a good idea for the talent at Pittsburgh. Receiver Jon Baldwin and defensive end Jabaal Sheard are the two biggest names pro scouts are keeping an eye on.
Morning take: Cundiff tied the NFL record last season with 40 touchbacks while kicking the ball from the 30-yard line. Barring injury or a sudden decrease in leg strength, Cundiff should break the record next season if he's given five additional yards.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North:
  • Will the Pittsburgh Steelers draft Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey?
Morning take: Ideally, Pouncey would drop to No. 31 for Pittsburgh. But I don't see it happening. If the Steelers want Pouncey to join his twin brother, Maurkice, they will likely have to trade up.
  • Cleveland Browns rookie head coach Pat Shurmur is confident the team will be fine despite a lockout.
Morning take: Cleveland is one of the few teams which has to learn a new offense and new defense this offseason. Shurmur and president Mike Holmgren are confident, but the longer this goes, the worse it is for the Browns.
  • Today's pro day for Maryland receiver Torrey Smith will be of interest for the Baltimore Ravens.
Morning take: Baltimore needs a deep threat but not bad enough to get one in the first round. A first-round receiver would be, at best, a No. 3 option for the Ravens. A first-round right tackle has a chance to start in Week 1.
  • The Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are among the teams showing interest in Baylor guard Danny Watkins.
Morning take: Watkins is a prospect to watch for this division. To some degree, every AFC North team has questions on the offensive line, and Watkins could be a target late in the first round or early in the second round.
Here are the most interesting stories Sunday in the AFC North:
  • Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski scored a first-round knockout of Richard Bryant in Las Vegas to improve to 2-0.
Morning take: Zbikowski has two first-round knockouts in two professional bouts. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco did some trash-talking last week, but he would be wise to avoid Zbikowski in the ring.
  • What are the futures for pending free agents Lawrence Vickers and Matt Roth of the Cleveland Browns?
Morning take: With the change to a West Coast offense, Vickers, a power fullback, might no longer fit in Cleveland's plans since it might throw 55-percent or more next season. Roth can convert to a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. But he wasn't happy in Cleveland after not getting a long-term extension in 2010. So I expect Roth to test the market
Morning take: I'm not surprised there is a lockout in March, but I'm still confident the NFL will not miss games in September. Teams will now focus on the draft, then hopefully get a new collective bargaining agreement in place during the spring or summer.
Morning take: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder will both put their talents on display this week. With Carson Palmer's future in doubt, Gabbert could be a target for the Bengals in the first round, while Ponder is a second-round option.

Morning take: Gaither trade bait?

March, 30, 2010
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC North: Morning take: Gaither, a restricted free agent, makes for an interesting dilemma. Should Baltimore take a high draft pick or pay Gaither an extension?
Morning take: If the performance was as good as advertised, the Browns won't sniff Bradford at No. 7.
Morning take: Most of the players from last year's 10-6 team will return this season. We will have more on the Bengals coming up (hint, hint).
Morning take: If Parker is willing to accept a reduced role at a reduced rate, it could work. But I'm not sure that will happen.

Is Joe Haden back in the mix?

March, 17, 2010
University of Florida cornerback Joe Haden reportedly ran a much better 40 time during the school's pro day Wednesday. According to reports, Haden was clocked in the range of 4.4 seconds.

That should solidify Haden back to his original slot as a top 10 draft pick. During the NFL combine, he struggled with low 40 times and had many questioning whether his stock would fall as far as the 20s. Haden was suffering from a back injury last month, but Wednesday's time was big for Haden to erase some doubts.

On film, Haden is the best cover corner available in this year's draft. The Cleveland Browns could be interested in the Florida alum at No. 7 overall.

But at the very least, you can just about rule out Haden's stock falling so far that he lands with the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 18 or the Baltimore Ravens at No. 25.