AFC North: Toby Gerhart

Five NFL draft predictions

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
11:00
AM ET
The NFL draft is just two days away and anticipation continues to build.

With that said, here are five draft predictions from the AFC North blog:

Prediction No. 1: No Tim Tebow in the first round

Tebow
Analysis: There's been a lot of reports and rumors flying around, and one that's recently gaining steam is former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will be drafted in the first round. But I'm not buying this one. There are only two quarterbacks firmly in the first round -- Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen. I'm also hearing former Texas QB Colt McCoy could sneak into the bottom of the first round if a team really gets antsy and wants him bad enough. But despite various reports, Tebow's name being linked in the opening round appears more hype and innuendo than reality. I'll believe this one only when I see it.

Prediction No. 2: Pittsburgh won't draft a QB early

Analysis: After Ben Roethlisberger's off-field issues, the knee-jerk reaction was that the Pittsburgh Steelers should take the best available QB in the draft. This won't happen. Consider the flip side: If Pittsburgh drafts a QB in the first three rounds, that player has to make the 53-man roster. That also means the Steelers have to cut Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch, which is not in their plans. Pittsburgh won't carry four quarterbacks into next season. So as long as Roethlisberger remains on the roster, don't expect Pittsburgh to dramatically alter its draft plans to take one of the top-rated quarterbacks. It's more likely the Steelers check out QBs in the fourth round or later.

Prediction No. 3: Browns will try to trade the No. 7 pick

Analysis: The Cleveland Browns are not all that comfortable at No. 7. The pick is likely too low to land Bradford or safety Eric Berry but too high to draft safety Earl Thomas. Therefore, if the draft plays out as many expect, the Browns could be caught "reaching" if they stay put, and that's something president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert want to avoid. I can't guarantee the Browns will trade the pick to move up or down, because draft day is too unpredictable. They may find a suitor or they may not. Berry could fall to No. 7 or he may not. But under certain circumstances, Cleveland could be open to dealing its top pick at the right price for a second straight year.

Gerhart
Prediction No. 4: RB Toby Gerhart will land in AFC North

Analysis: I know there are seven other divisions, but Gerhart is a natural fit for the AFC North, especially considering what teams are currently lacking. The Steelers could use a big bruiser to move the chains in short-yardage situations. The Browns also need a bigger back to complement the smallish Jerome Harrison. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh doesn't necessarily need running backs. But his brother, Jim, coached Gerhart at Stanford. So Baltimore probably has the best scouting report on Gerhart. With that amount of ties and interest, keep an eye on Gerhart in the middle rounds.

Prediction No. 5: LT Jared Gaither stays in Baltimore

Gaither
Analysis: One of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's favorite sayings is "the right player for the right price." With that in mind, there's a better chance Gaither stays in Baltimore than he's traded this offseason. The Ravens put a first-round tender on Gaither and didn't receive any offers. That likely would've been the "right price" to move Gaither, who has one year left on his deal. But unless a team is willing to cough up, at the very least, a high second-round pick, the Ravens shouldn't consider moving their starting left tackle. If stud players like Donovan McNabb and Brandon Marshall are only garnering second-round picks, I'm not sure Gaither can command the same in this current market.

AFC North mailbag

January, 18, 2010
1/18/10
2:30
PM ET
Now that the season is over for every AFC North team, let's see what's questions are in our division mailbag.

Andy Prough from Kyle, Texas, believes 2010 could "end up being more of the same mediocre division play" in the AFC North.

James Walker: Thanks for the comment, Andy. I was thinking about this yesterday, because I automatically assumed last year the division was so much stronger. But when I added up the regular-season wins, the AFC North had 31 victories in 2008 and 33 in 2009. This year there were three decent teams with winning records that didn't make much noise in the playoffs. Last year, there were two awful teams to pair with two elite teams that advanced to the conference title game and one that eventually won a Super Bowl. Personally, I feel the division is better when it has success in the playoffs. But it’s really a matter of perspective.


Andrew from Baltimore, Md., writes: I think Ed Reed retires this offseason. Any thoughts?

Walker: I believe Reed when he says it’s "50-50." This isn't lip service, and Reed is not the type to talk for the sake of talking. I think retirement is a very real possibility in his mind. He's dealt with this neck condition for a couple of seasons now, and it’s probably crossed his mind before, but never to this current degree.


Jeff from Springfield, Ohio, wants to know if Stanford running back Toby Gerhart could be a possibility for the Cleveland Browns at No. 7 overall.

Walker: This spot it too high for Gerhart, Jeff. I don’t want to get into draft position too much, because something in January could be completely different after next month’s combine and individual workouts. But right now Gerhart is definitely not considered at top-seven pick.


Casey B. from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: What are the chances the Cincinnati Bengals take a chance on Brandon Marshall?

Walker: We get this question a lot from both Ravens fans and Bengals fans. But the answer is the same. Marshall will be a restricted free agent next season and will cost a lot of money and draft picks. So I would be shocked if he lands in the AFC North next season. The Bengals aren't a team that spends a lot of money in free agency, and the Ravens don't give away high draft picks. We haven't even mentioned Marshall's baggage. So let's rule him out for now.

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