Posted on: April 29, 2008 7:56 am
Edited on: April 29, 2008 7:58 am

Draft Round-Up II - AFC North

<meta content="Microsoft SafeHTML" name="Generator" /><style type="text/css"> .ExternalClass .EC_hmmessage P {padding:0px;} .ExternalClass body.EC_hmmessage {font-size:10pt;font-family:Tahoma;}</style>Moving from the East to the AFC North, we'll do reverse order again:
Baltimore Ravens - had a curveball thrown their way with the retirement of Steve McNair.  Obviously, a QB is a need. Issues on their both lines, secondary, & offensive backs were concerns, as well.  The best way I can quantify the Ravens seven picks, all in rounds 1-4, is that they overpaid for them.  Joe Flacco from Delaware addressed their QB need, but did you really need to move a 2nd-round QB up to the 18th overall pick?  Ray Rice from Rutgers had over 2,000 yards at Rutgers in '07, but at 5'8" and no moves like Barry Sanders, he was a 3rd-round pick, at best.  And so it goes with, Gooden (LB), Zbikowki (SS), Cousins (G), Smith (WR) & Hale (OT); all should have been drafted at least one round later.  The Ravens then took flyers with Nakamura(S), Harper(WR), & Patrick (RB).  Harbaugh says they have a plan.  We'll see.  Grade: C-
Cincinnati Bengals - talk about a team with issues!  Wide Receiver was an obvious issue w/Henry's dismissal & Ocho-cinco being... Ocho-cinco.  Too bad for Cincy that this was a down year for Receiver talent.  So they take Keith Rivers from USC (OLB) with their first pick.  No major injuries...major contributor to a major program...safe, dynamic pick.  Then, 2 of their next 3 picks cover the WR dilemma; Jerome Simpson from Coastal Carolina & Andre Caldwell from UF.  Simpson pick is very suspect with Limas Sweed & DeSean Jackson still on the board.  Caldwell was good timing for a good player.  Pat Sims (DT) from Auburn fell between the two burners.  Anthony Collins (OT) from Kansas provides a serviceable lineman who was 1st Team All-American & an Outland finalist.  Jason Shirley (DT) at 6'5" 335 lbs sounds great 'til you hear he was dismissed from Fresno State for a DUI arrest (among other things).  Same old Bengals?  Lynch (FS), Sherry (TE), Craig (OLB) & Urrutia (WR) round out Cincy's draft.  Grade: C
Cleveland Browns - well, I hope you enjoyed last year's draft Cleveland, because it was most of this year's for you.  Round 4 saw the first Browns pick with 2 guys who could have gone in the 3rd.  Beau Bell (ILB) from UNLV had 126 tackles last year and can stuff the run.  Martin Rucker (TE), former Panther Mike Rucker's brother, from Mizzou provides another good set of hands for whoever QBs and insurance for the oft-injured Winslow.  From there, it was just one-dimensional players.  Ahtyba Ruben (DT) from Iowa State will be useful as a Nose Tackle only with little athletic leverage.  Paul Hubbard (WR) from Wisconsin while having size and speed has questionable hands and is coming off of a knee injury in '07.  Finally, mystery man Alex Hall (DE) from little St. Augustine's College (Go Falcons!) was good for Div. II, but the NFL?  Limited picks (5) with limited success do not make me very comfortable.  Grade: D
Pittsburgh Steelers - here's a team that believes strongly in the "take the best available athlete" strategy of drafting.  Otherwise, you can't explain how they didn't take the offensive linemen they desperately needed.  Rashard Mendenhall (RB) from Illinois is a strong, serviceable, long-term back and Limas Sweed (WR) from Texas topped many GMs' draft boards at his position.  Next, was Bruce Davis (OLB) who played Defensive End at UCLA, but must lose weight to play his projected new position.  Finally, in the 4th round, they pick up Tony Hills (OT) from Texas.  Injuries killed his college career, though, with 2(!) broken legs and nerve damage in his knee.  Yeesh.  To round out the injury parade for the Steelers, Dennis Dixon (QB) from Oregon shows up in the 5th round.  Probably another year 'til he's as good as he was the 1st half of last year after his torn ACL.  Ryan Mundy (FS) & Mike Humpal (OLB) round out the Steelers draft.  Grade: C-
The North didn't help itself that much, in my view.
Category: NFL
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