Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Draft Preview: AFC North

With Free Agency pretty much wrapped up, the NFL Draft is quickly approaching once again. As we have done in the past, we're going to take a quick look at the other teams in the league and preview their team needs and how they will likely approach the Draft. Today we take a look at the rest of the AFC North. Previews for the Steelers will be coming over the next couple of days.

For reference, we compiled the draft picks each team currently has. Compensatory picks are listed in parentheses.

2011 Record: 12-4
AFC North Champions, Lost to New England in AFC Championship Game

Draft Picks: 29, 60, 91, (130), 164, (169), 198, 236

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The Ravens were a field goal away from the Super Bowl. Or a dropped pass by Lee Evans. Whichever way you want to look at it, they were close. They lost some key pieces, both from their defense and offensive line, in free agency. They put the franchise tag on Ray Rice and are still working on a long-term deal with their star RB. The Ravens have the talent to make another run at the division title, and as far as we're concerned it's their division until we take it back from them. The Ravens have never been shy about making trades during the draft, and are willing to move up or down to get the player they want.

2011 Record: 9-7
Wild Card, Lost to Houston in Wild Card Round

Draft Picks: 17, 21, 53, 83, 116, 156, 166, 191

The Bengals surprised everyone last year by going from the bottom of the division to making the playoffs. Marvin Lewis was probably smiling from ear to ear after all the ego departed from his locker room as the Bengals thankfully parted ways with Ochostinko and TO. Carson Palmer caused a bit of a kerfluffle, but the Bengals replaced him with Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green, who has all the makings of being a superstar. The Bengals have two first round picks this year and should be able to add two more caliber players to their team. This team has the makings of one that could be a competitor but could also be due to take a step back after their big jump forward last year.

2011 Record: 4-12

Draft Picks: 4, 22, 37, 67, 100, 118, 139, 160, (204), (205), 211, (245), (247)

There has been a lot of discussion about what the Browns should do with the #4 pick in the draft. A lot of how the rest of the draft will fall will be determined by who the Browns pick. Regardless of what they think about Colt McCoy, he or any other quarterback won't be able to function in an offense with no weapons. The Browns need to add offensive playmakers. Drafting Ryan Tannehill won't do them any good if their line is mediocre and they don't have receivers that can catch the ball. Trent Richardson is the smart pick here at #4, but the Browns could choose to go for Justin Blackmon or Mo Claiborne. Best case scenario for Cleveland is to get Richardson at 4, hope Kendall Wright falls to them at 22, then take Brandon Weeden at the top of the 2nd round.

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