Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Todd McShay's latest AFC North mock
By James Walker
The NFL draft is one of the most unpredictable events in sports. That is why ESPN draft expert Todd McShay presented his annual scenario-based mock draft .
Let's take a look at how McShay thinks the AFC North will shake out next week.
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 4)
McShay's pick: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
Analysis: McShay's second option would be to take Alabama receiver Julio Jones, and the third choice would be to take one of the top two quarterbacks: Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. Despite Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer's willingness to retire, I think the Bengals should avoid taking a quarterback in the first round. Green is a decent choice, but I'm against taking receivers in the first round. If the Bengals are sure free agent Johnathan Joseph won't return, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is probably the safest pick in this draft. Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller also could help the front seven.
Cleveland Browns (No. 6)
McShay's pick: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
Analysis: There is a lot of momentum the past couple of weeks linking Jones to the Browns. Cleveland is desperate for receiver help in its new West Coast offense, and Green could be off the board by No. 6. McShay's other options would be to take Green if he's available or North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn to help rush the passer. I'm still not keen on taking a receiver this high. But if I did, it would be Green, not Jones. The Quinn pick would help Cleveland's thin defensive line, and I like the option of Peterson here as well.
Baltimore Ravens (No. 26)
McShay's pick: Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward
Analysis: McShay's second option is for Baltimore to take the best-available corner, and the third option is to trade down. For a while, both McShay and Mel Kiper were heavy on the Ravens drafting a cornerback in the first round, but that has since cooled with McShay. Top offensive tackles were off the board by the time No. 26 came up in McShay's mock draft, and that's probably Baltimore's biggest need. But it also makes sense for the Ravens to improve their pass rush. In addition to Heyward, also keep an eye on Purdue defensive end/linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31)
McShay's pick: Miami CB Brandon Harris
Analysis: The Steelers would likely be happy to land Harris here. He would fill the team's biggest need and should be able to contribute immediately. Texas cornerback Aaron Williams is another possibility at No. 31 for Pittsburgh. McShay believes a second option would be drafting the best offensive lineman. But the third option was a surprise. McShay believes Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph could be a target and provide good value. But this year the Steelers need high draft picks who have a chance to compete for a starting job. Heath Miller is the starting tight end in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.