AFC North team needs

John Murphy
Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports has broken down the needs for each team heading into the NFL draft on April 28-29 in New York City.


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Baltimore Ravens
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 29 (1), 61 (2), 134 (4), 137 (4), 166 (5), 174 (5), 203 (6), 207 (6)

OL: All signs indicate that All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden will return in the hopes of making one last run at a Super Bowl title. The Ravens have two good young prospects to take over shortly at center and guard – Jason Brown and Chris Chester, respectively – but the free-agency loss of Tony Pashos means they could target at least two linemen in the draft. The Ravens must key on a player that fits their style and one who can be groomed behind Ogden. In the later rounds, they can seen seek out a potential backup with Adam Koets, Stephon Heyer and Eddie Keele fitting the bill. It would not be surprising to see them take a right guard with good movement skills in the late rounds as well.

CB: Samari Rolle has started to lose a step and their best options off the bench are better suited for playing nickel and dime, although there are a few staff members who really like the upside of former undrafted free agent Ronnie Prude. Derrick Martin figures to be a better option than fellow reserve David Pittman, but he could be pushed for a roster spot if they drafted a cornerback in the first few rounds.

LB: The mere mention that Ray Lewis, who will turn 32 in May, is getting up in years draws harsh tones from any Ravens fan, but now is a good time to develop a future replacement. The initial plan is to use Jarret Johnson as the replacement at outside linebacker for the departed Adalius Thomas, but expect the Ravens to select a situational defender like LaMarr Woodley, Quentin Moses, Justin Hickman or Jason Trusnik at some point.

QB: QB coach Rick Neuheisel has toured the country watching second-tier signal callers. If the Ravens do not see a guy worthy of their pick at No. 29, they could drop back choices to select their future quarterback. Remember the names Trent Edwards, John Beck and Matt Gutierrez.

DT: The free-agent loss of steady interior lineman Aubrayo Franklin will make the Ravens go fishing for a reserve run stuffer during the second day. They have decent depth along their front line, but it would be erased quickly if there were any injuries to the team's starters.

Cleveland Browns
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 3 (1), 36 (2), 67 (3), 103 (4), 140 (5), 178 (6), 213 (7)

QB: General manager Phil Savage has been carefully observing all of the information and workouts done by both JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, while also floating several other names out to the public. However, if the team wants to put a new face on this franchise, it would come in the form of drafting the highest-rated quarterback they have on the board.

CB: After cutting ties with several veterans, the Browns need to solidify their secondary in order to give their young pass rushers more of a chance to make big plays up front. Round 2 options could include Marcus McCauley, Tanard Jackson, Eric Wright or Josh Wilson.

RB: Newly signed running back Jamal Lewis gives them a useful veteran for at least one season, but what his addition really did was give them the option of passing on Adrian Peterson at No. 3 if one of the quarterbacks were to fall in their lap. Backups Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison each showed some promise to become reliable situational players, but there is still a long-term need at this position if Lewis does not bounce back to the 1,200-1,500 yard form he showed a few years ago. If they pass on Peterson early, then spending a third-round pick on someone like Tony Hunt or Chris Henry could come into play.

DL: Adding veteran leadership in the form of Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith were key moves, but they could still use some young, fresh legs up front. Finding a backup nose tackle behind Ted Washington would be a key addition. Most 3-4 teams feel that they can find productive linemen in the mid-to-late rounds. Look for the Browns to pick up at least one guy at this spot.

C: The long-term decision on former All-Pro LeCharles Bentley (knee injury, staph infection) likely will not come until next offseason, but they need to prepare as if he will never play again. The Browns would likely search for a versatile blocker who can back up at both center and guard such as Dustin Fry, Drew Mormino or even Mark Bihl late in the draft.

Cincinnati Bengals
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 18 (1), 49 (2), 114 (4), 151 (5), 187 (6), 230 (7), 253 (7)

CB: The Bengals are resigned to the fact that they must get stronger up front to stop the run. They also need fresher, faster legs in the secondary in order to improve as a defensive unit. They could follow up on last year's addition of Jonathan Joseph by adding a more physical corner with better ball skills to play opposite of Joseph. Since the Bengals are without a third-round pick after using it in last year's supplemental draft on Ahmad Brooks, they have been shopping veteran cornerback Deltha O'Neal in the hopes of obtaining an extra first-day choice.

LB: The entire organization felt this position was in fine shape just two years ago after drafting Odell Thurman and David Pollack. They are now faced with the potential permanent loss of Thurman because of his off-field issues and Pollack has said recently that if his neck injury clears up, defensive end might be his best position. There are still high hopes for Brooks to take over in the middle, but overall the Bengals lack depth and could use a playmaker early in the draft to stem the tide of negative moves at this position.

DT: If a space-eater like Michigan's Alan Branch slides, the Bengals could be enticed to trade up. As of now, they are relying on veteran Sam Adams, who has lost a step and become more of a situational player, and either John Thornton or Domata Peko to be their starters. If they opt for cornerback or linebacker in the first round, they should obtain a high-motor guy who can rotate in behind Adams with an eye toward starting in 2008.

S: Veteran Dexter Jackson has lost a step and while they like what they saw out of John Busing as a rookie in practice, he is too raw to be counted on as more than a special teams guy in 2007. Versatile Ethan Kilmer will be tried starting full-time at mini-camp. While he has the speed and range to develop, he lacks the size and tackling ability to play full-time next season. Expect them to target a strong safety in the middle rounds.

OT: You could make the argument that Andrew Whitworth was their most effective rookie last season as he logged a total of 12 starts because of Levi Jones' knee injuries. He seems to be the long-term answer for one of the two tackle spots, but it would be wise to develop someone else.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 15 (1), 46 (2), 77 (3), 119 (4), 132 (4), 156 (5), 170 (5), 192 (6), 227 (7)

CB: Ike Taylor was very inconsistent last year after receiving a new contract and Ricardo Colclough is dealing with a neck injury, so they are looking for a potential starter. If they make this a priority, they would most likely go after Michigan's Leon Hall at No. 15.

LB: New head coach Mike Tomlin has said that he plans to play the best defensive scheme for the players on the current roster, but the Steelers could start making plans for an eventual change to a 4-3, Cover 2 scheme. By drafting linebackers who have better coverage skills, they could amend their current scheme over the next few years.

DE: They would be drafting for depth at this position, but they could really use someone who could come off the bench and give them 20-25 plays per game as an edge rusher. I would expect this to be a spot they look at late first day or with one of their two, fourth-round selections.

RB: The Steelers would like to find a complement to Willie Parker; someone who could be used in short yardage or red zone carries, much in the way the New York Giants used Brandon Jacobs the past few years. Depending on when they opt to select a player at this position, they could target Kenneth Darby, Dwayne Wright or even Michael Bush if they were to have a positive opinion on his medical outlook.

WR/P: They are looking for another guy in addition to Santonio Holmes who could line up in the slot or be groomed behind Hines Ward since Bruce Arians prefers to use more multiple-receiver sets than previous offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The depth of the receiver class could allow them to hold off until the second day and keep a close eye on top-rated punter Daniel Sepulveda. If they don't draft Sepulveda, they could target a young, strong-legged punter in the last three rounds after failing in their attempt to sign 49ers restricted free agent punter Andy Lee.

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