Around the NFL  

 

AFC North leads the way with 39 total picks

ESPN's Jamison Hensley went through the trouble of computing the numbers (wisely, we stay away from math) and the results are in: The AFC North is set to enter next month's draft with a grand total 39 picks, more than any division in the NFL.

• In a rare occurrence, the Cleveland Browns lead this rough-and-tumble division with 13 picks, the most in the league, thanks to four compensatory selections awarded this week. ATL's take: For a team that has basically ignored free agency, the Browns are tasked with hitting the jackpot here. They have the firepower (at No. 4 and No. 22) to locate immediate starting talent. The Rams lurk as a trade partner for the fourth pick, which could net even more selections. Trading down has worked for the Browns in years past, but passing on a top-five talent is a luxury this talent-poor team might not be able to afford. It's well past time to find Colt McCoy some help.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers are next with 10 picks, tied for third most in the league. ATL's take: This is a roster in flux. The Steelers' pieced-together offensive line is crying out for help. Center Maurkice Pouncey is a fixture for years to come and tackle WIllie Colon is serviceable when on the field, but the overall picture is troubling: Pittsburgh fielded 10 different starting lineups along the O-line last season. At nose tackle, Casey Hampton is 34 years old and Chris Hoke has vanished into the sunset, retiring after the season. The defense needs youth and speed.

Brooks: The truth about Tannehill
With the NFL's QB obsession, Ryan Tannehill projects as a top-10 pick. But Bucky Brooks doesn't see a top-10 talent. More ...

• The Cincinnati Bengals have eight picks, and that includes the 17th and 21st selections in the first round (thank you very much, Carson Palmer). ATLs take: As we've mentioned before, we NEED to see former Raiders coach and current Bengals assistant Hue Jackson deliver the card to the podium for that 17th pick, considering he's the man who engineered the "greatest trade" in NFL history. If Cincy plays their cards right, this could be remembered as a draft that pulls the Bengals out of the kiddie pool. They nailed it last season with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and will have the opportunity to find a pair of productive, scheme-fitting talents with three picks in the top 53 selections in 2012.

• The Baltimore Ravens have eight picks, including two fifth-rounders. ATL's take: It's time for the Ravens to think about a replacement for 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis. Ed Reed could use some support at safety, as well (while grooming his replacement). Near-impossible shoes to fill, but it's time to develop the next wave. Another issue: How many more seasons from left tackle Bryant McKinnie?

For a division that sent three teams to the playoffs last season, a stockade of draft picks -- and the young talent netted -- has the AFC North sitting pretty heading into April. 

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15