NFL Nation: Texas Tech

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

NEW YORK -- The Cowboys were hoping Texas Tech safety Darcel McBath would be there on Day 2, but the Broncos just scooped him up with the 48th pick overall.

Scouts Inc. had McBath rated as the 101st player in the draft. And he just went at 48?

Wow!

I might be inclined to call that a reach, but I've seen McBath play way too much. He gets his hands on a lot of throws and had seven interceptions in '08. He will also come up and pop you in the running game. Oops, Max Unger is off the board at No. 49. Cowboys striking out left and right.

Let's see which way they turn. Might be time for Mohamed Massaquoi at wide receiver. He's the kid from Georgia. I know the Cowboys love him. And Massaquoi's off the board to the Browns.

Morning take: NFL draft

April, 23, 2009
4/23/09
8:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Forty-eight hours before the NFL draft, it's officially "smoke-screen day" in the media and AFC North.

Morning take: (Cough) Sorry, some smoke just entered the room.

Morning take: (Cough, cough).

  • According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are hoping to draft Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry (and not an offensive tackle).

Morning take: (Cough, cough, cough).

Morning take: (Cough, cough, cough, cough).

  • Also according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns "have fallen in love" with Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree.

Morning take: (Cough, cough, cough, cough, cough) OK, get me out of here! I'm suffocating.

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.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

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

Morning take: Leftwich is saying all the right things at this point, but I'm not buying it. He wants to start and he will seek that chance, starting on Friday.

  • The Baltimore Ravens and pending free agent safety Jim Leonhard could be parting ways this offseason, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Morning take: The Ravens do not want to overpay Leonhard, who earned the right to get starter money, but would have to compete with Dawan Landry if he stayed. Newsome correctly expects another team to offer Leonhard the kind of money he's seeking.

  • Has Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, who has a fracture in his left foot, improved his likelihood of becoming a Cincinnati Bengal?

Morning take: My first reaction to this story was "no way." Then I realized the Bengals just franchised their kicker, so I guess anything is possible.

Morning take: Yes, but I thought a transition tag should have been under consideration. Cleveland likely has a better replacement in mind because Nick Sorensen as your starter will not cut it in the AFC North.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

For those Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals fans hoping your team would ignore bigger needs to take Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, forget about it.

News broke Saturday that Crabtree, arguably the top-rated player in the draft, has a foot fracture that will sideline him up to 10 weeks. Crabtree was projected to be a top five pick, which is why Browns and Bengals followers were hopeful.

Now it's pretty much official neither AFC North team would take an injury risk with the No. 5 and No. 6 overall pick. Crabtree was considered a luxury, not a need, for Cleveland and Cincinnati. Both teams have a pair of No. 1 receivers in Braylon Edwards and Chad Ocho Cinco, respectively.

Expect Cleveland to take a hard look at linebacker, the team's primary need, while Cincinnati explores the many quality offensive tackles available.

By the way, Crabtree won't fall to the Baltimore Ravens (No. 26) or Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 32), either. Keep dreaming.

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