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AFC North Draft Preview

AFC North Draft Preview

By Christopher Tyler Baker - 4 months ago in NFL News

AFC North Draft Preview

The 2017 NFL Draft is just days away! Here is a look at the teams in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

AFC North Draft Preview

Since winning Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens have posted a 32-34 record. They went 8-8 last season, finished second in the division, and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year. It’s the first time the Ravens have missed the playoffs in consecutive years since 2004-2005. The team showed a lot of improvement from 2015’s 5-11 campaign, but still finished without a winning record. To their credit, the Ravens lost of couple of games that they easily could have won. The offensive line and secondary units showed improvement. The running game improved as well, but the coaching staff never seemed committed to establishing the run. Pressuring the quarterback was problematic for the defense all year, which is uncharacteristic of the Ravens. The team made a big leap from a terrible 2015 season, and is poised to make another leap if they can have a good draft.

Notable 2017 additions

S Tony Jefferson
CB Brandon Carr
RB Danny Woodhead

Signing safety Tony Jefferson was a great move. He will team up with Eric Weddle and should solidify the middle of the secondary. Danny Woodhead is a seasoned pro and will get an opportunity to contribute early with Kennith Dixon serving a 4 game suspension to start the year. Even after Dixon returns, Woodhead is versatile and can lineup in the slot if needed. Brandon Carr is a veteran and looks to have a starting role at corner.

Draft needs

The Ravens lost Kamar Aiken in free agency, and Breshad Perriman has yet to develop into the player the team was hoping for. The team will most likely spend an early pick to find a starting-caliber receiver. Losing T Ricky Wagner leaves the team with a vacancy on the offensive line. They may look to a weak draft class for offensive line help. The team added Danny Woodhead this offseason, but may look to the draft to add more talent to the stable. The Ravens cut ties with Elvis Dumervil and need a LB that can get after the quarterback. It would not be surprising if they spent an early round pick on an outside linebacker/edge rusher. The team needs help at corner and may look to add defensive back depth as well.

The team has seven picks in the draft with picks 16, 47, 74 and 78 in the first three rounds.

Cincinnati Bengals

AFC Draft Preview

The Bengals regressed from their 12-4, 2015 campaign to end the 2016 season at 6-9-1. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. 2016 was not kind to the Bengals. Loosing Mohammad Sanu and Marvin Jones slowed down the offense that showed growing pains adjusting to a new system under Ken Zampeese. The offensive line underperformed and seemed out of whack. Giovani Bernard tore his ACL and A.J. Green missed significant time with a torn hamstring. With everything that went wrong for the Bengals last year, they didn’t seem to address their needs in free agency, and the the draft is not deep in positions of need. 2017 could be see Marvin Lewis on the hot seat.

Notable 2017 additions

G Andre Smith
ILB Kevin Minter

The Bengals have not impressed anyone with their offseason so far. They lost a number of key players and did very little in free agency to fill the voids. Andre Smith will attempt to fill Kevin Zeitler’s shoes. Kevin Minter is durable, cerebral, and aggressive; but lacks the athleticism to be a dominant player.

Draft needs

Minter and the volatile Vontaze Burfict lead a linebacker group that could use another starter (and some depth for when Burfict finds himself suspended again). Tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler were huge losses for the Bengals. This draft does not have a good pool of offensive lineman but the Bengals will have to do something to try to fill those holes. Rex Burkhead is gone, Giovani Bernard is coming off a late-season ACL tear, and Jeremy Hill was inconsistent last year so the team needs help at running back. The oft-injured Tyler Eifert is recovering from back surgery so the team may take a quality tight end. The Bengals need a spark on the defensive line and this draft has plenty of guys that can contribute. Branden LaFell is slated at #2 WR so the team will probably look to upgrade.

The team has eleven picks in the draft with picks 9, 14 and 73 in the first three rounds.

Cleveland Browns

AFC North Draft Preview

The Browns finished 2016 with an embarrassing record of 1-15. It was the worst record in franchise history and extended their streak of loosing seasons to nine. On the bright side- the franchise has nowhere to go but up. In a season where everything seemed to go wrong, tackle Joe Thomas made history with his 10th consecutive Pro Bowl nod. The team has 22 draft picks in the next two drafts so the franchise is primed for a major rebuild.

Notable 2017 additions

WR Kenny Britt
C J.C. Tretter
QB Brock Osweiler

WR Terrelle Pryor was the most effective weapon in the Browns offense last season. The Browns have attempted to replaced that productions with Kenny Britt. J.C. Tretter is a very good center but has been plagued by injuries his entire career. The Brock Osweiler addition is notable only because it netted the team a 2017 second round draft pick.

Draft needs

The Browns have to get better at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. With no true franchise quarterbacks available, a talent like Miles Garrett is hard to ignore. It’s most likely the team will take the DE with the first overall pick. Quarterback has been an area of need for some time. The team will probably try their luck with picking a QB or two in this draft. The losses of Pryor and veteran Andrew Hawkins leave a big need at receiver. The secondary was a big problem for the Browns last year so they will probably spend multiple early round picks on bolstering the secondary.. The team may also try to snag one of the top tight ends in this draft class. The Browns have a good offensive line sans the right tackle position. They may try to address RT with one of their eleven picks

The team has eleven picks in the draft with picks 1, 12, 33, 52 and 65 in the first three rounds.

Pittsburg Steelers

AFC North Draft Preview

The Steelers ended the 2016 regular season with a record of 11-5, won the AFC North tittle and made a playoff run that took them as far as the AFC Championship game. Their season begun with a lot of question marks- Heath Miller retired, Le’Veon Bell faced a three game suspention, and Martavius Bryant was suspended the entire year. Injuries to Roethlisberger, Wheaten and numerous defensive players slowed the team down, but they did a great job of overcoming adversity. This offseason saw the Steelers make some smart moves. All-pro Antonio Brown’s contract has been extended, Le’Veon Bell has been franchised and the team focused on retaining key pieces rather than making a splash in free agency. Sadly, the Steelers lost a very important member of their franchise this month. R.I.P. Dan Rooney.

Notable 2017 additions

DT Tyson Alualu
CB Coty Sensabaugh
RB/KR Knile Davis

Knile Davis will primarily be a return specialist, but he can also provide depth at RB. Sensabaugh is a veteran slot corner and can be a stop-gap player if the team cannot upgrade via the draft. Alualu will be an important rotational piece on the defensive line.

Draft needs

The team will need to prepare for the eventual departures of James Harrison and Arthur Moats. Edge rusher should be addressed in this draft. The team needs a safety, nickel back and depth at corner. Last year’s Ladarius Green signing showed that the team would like to add a dynamic, pass-catching tight end. Green cannot stay healthy so the team may look to this draft to fill that need. It looks like Martavis Bryant will be reinstated, but the team may still be interested in adding a receiver. The team will most likely take advantage of this draft’s running back depth to find a backup for Le’Veon Bell.

The team has eight picks in the draft with picks 30, 62, 94 and 105 in the first three rounds.


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