- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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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
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.
GerhartPrediction 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
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.