|Frank Victores / US Presswire|
|With Carson Palmer's future unclear, Cincy is in transition in a division with playoff-tested Baltimore and Pittsburgh.|
Pat Kirwan examines the draft needs for all 32 teams, by division, this week. The biggest need for each team is listed first and followed in descending order.
Needs: Speed WR, CB, S, DE
Baltimore came close to being the AFC representative in the Super Bowl and did so by building up its passing game. They still need a speedy wide receiver on the outside to "take the top" off the defense and open up the underneath lanes for Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap. The jury is still out on Michael Oher as a left tackle. He might be at his best on the right side.
On the other side of the ball, they need help at corner, as well as safety in the event Ed Reed misses time again. Haloti Ngata plays the five-technique defensive end in some of their packages, but the defense could use a young end with pass rush skills when he goes inside. If Sergio Kindle, their top draft choice in 2010, can finally get on the field, it answers a big question at linebacker.
*Draft choices: Nos.26, 58, 90, 122, 175, 186, 215
Needs: QB, S, MLB, DE, RB, WR
The Bengals could claim they won't trade Carson Palmer, but they have to enter this draft taking his threats to retire seriously. With the fourth overall pick, they should have a shot at one of the top two quarterbacks. If they secure one of them, maybe they trade Palmer and get a package a little better than the Donovan McNabb deal (at least a second rounder this year and one next year).
Sooner or later, the Bengals need to replace running back Cedric Benson and middle linebacker Dhani Jones if they are both eventually re-signed. This could be the draft to get players at both positions. A safety with solid pass skills should be in the mix. Keep in mind, Cincinnati's coaches had the North squad at the Senior Bowl. There were a few good safeties in that game, namely Oklahoma's Quinton Carter and Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett.
*Draft choices: Nos.4, 35, 66, 100, 131, 162, 19
Needs: WR, DE, RT, S, MLB, G
The Browns might not be sold on Colt McCoy, but would they take a spread quarterback if Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert were available with the sixth pick? Even though I doubt it, they might trade down and acquire some extra picks. In the meantime, Cleveland needs a playmaker at wide receiver, and A.J. Green or Julio Jones could fit the profile.
Dick Jauron takes over the defense and has a 4-3 mindset with 3-4 personnel, so a pass-rushing end has to be on the radar. A middle linebacker like Illinois' Martez Wilson would be interesting, but it would be tough to make that call with their first two or three picks. They might be forced to find that type of player in the fourth round.
* Draft choices: Nos.6, 37, 70, 101, 134, 163, 165
Needs: CB, DE, LT, S, RB
The Steelers reload rather than rebuild. Somehow they got to the Super Bowl with a beat-up offensive line and some shaky play at corner. There's also an age issue, especially on defense, where more than half of the starters will be 30 or older. Kevin Colbert is so used to making draft picks late in rounds that he will find a way to secure at least three of their top needs without trading up.
After the top two corner prospects (LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara), the run on corners could come when they're picking. The health of Willie Colon should determine what direction the team goes with the offensive line. In a perfect world, Colon moves to guard and a tackle like Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod is available.
*Draft Choices: Nos.31, 63, 95, 127, 159, 191, 223
* The draft picks are unofficial at this point. The league is expected to release the complete draft order by the end of March.