As we close in on the 2013 NFL Draft (April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City), our analysts examine each team's biggest needs. Marc Sessler previews the AFC North below, but click here for other divisions.
2013 draft picks: 32 (1st round), 62 (2nd), 94 (3rd), 129 (4th), 130 (4th), 165 (5th), 168 (5th), 199 (6th), 200 (6th), 203 (6th), 238 (7th), 247 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Middle linebacker.
Other spots to address: Safety, wide receiver, left tackle, center.
Prospects who fit: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State; Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU; Matt Elam, FS, Florida; D.J. Swearinger, SS, South Carolina; Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame; Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech.
I'm falling in love with Baltimore's offseason. It opened with a thud, but general manager Ozzie Newsome remained Don Draper-like: Steady, without panic. It's hard to knock the front office for dumping past-their-prime veterans and refusing to overpay for role players like Paul Kruger. With 12 picks, including five in the first four rounds, Baltimore has an opportunity to reload.
Let's start with the obvious: The Ray Lewis retirement, paired with Dannell Ellerbe's exodus to Miami, left the Ravens with a gap at inside linebacker. Manti Te'o isn't everyone's cup of tea, but he's an intriguing choice if he sinks to No. 32. At safety, Baltimore found a solid-if-unsexy replacement for Ed Reed in Michael Huff, though the Ravens still need to draft someone to compete with James Ihedigbo.
On offense, there are questions at center, where Gino Gradkowski takes over for Matt Birk. Left tackle will be an issue if Bryant McKinnie isn't lured back. The Ravens also could use another big-bodied, reliable wideout now that Anquan Boldin is a San Francisco 49er. While we're at it, with both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson set to become free agents after the 2013 season, it isn't too early to find help at tight end. In Ozzie we trust.
2013 draft picks: 21 (1st round), 37 (2nd), 53 (2nd), 84 (3rd), 118 (4th), 156 (5th), 190 (6th), 197 (6th), 240 (7th), 251 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Running back.
Other spots to address: Safety, linebacker, center, defensive end, wide receiver.
Prospects who fit: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia; Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas; Matt Elam, FS, Florida; Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina; Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin; Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia; Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA.
I wrote earlier this month that I'd love to see the Bengals inject life into their offense by adding West Virginia's Tavon Austin. With his Q rating climbing daily, I highly doubt he'll be around when Cincinnati picks at No. 21, but if he is, plugging an X-factor into this attack -- despite greater needs at safety and linebacker -- would do wonders for the 22nd-ranked offense. With 10 picks to burn, Cincy could make a move for Austin, but the Bengals definitely aren't reading this column -- and expecting any kind of trade scenario is asking a lot of a typically stoic front office.
On defense, coordinator Mike Zimmer oversees one of the league's more exciting fronts, but linebacker is a rough spot. Georgia's Alec Ogletree and Rutgers' Khaseem Greene are two names that could help. Problems at safety must also be addressed; someone like Florida's Matt Elam would fit in well.
I'd also like to see the Bengals dial up a running back; BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a big bowl of vanilla ice cream, and this ground game needs an identity. If right tackle Andre Smith isn't re-signed, there's an immediate need up front to upgrade over Dennis Roland, a revolving door in pass protection.
2013 draft picks: 6 (1st round), 68 (3rd), 104 (4th), 139 (5th), 164 (5th), 175 (6th), 227 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Cornerback.
Other spots to address: Pass-rushing linebacker, right guard, free safety, quarterback, kicker.
Prospects who fit: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama; Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon; Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU; Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia; Josh Evans, FS, Florida; Matt Scott, QB, Arizona.
Michael Lombardi, you're on the clock.
The Browns' new general manager must decide what to do with that No. 6 pick. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner makes plenty of sense here. Pairing Milliner with Joe Haden would give Cleveland, which has sneaky talent on defense, one of the AFC's scarier cornerback duos on paper. Free-agent additions Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves fill holes at outside linebacker, but new coordinator Ray Horton's attacking 3-4 scheme will need more pass-rushing help. That will be especially true until it's clear that Jabaal Sheard can successfully shift from end to outside linebacker.
Regarding the offense, let's first have a moment of silence for all those who wasted hard-earned cash on jerseys emblazoned with the names COUCH, GARCIA, FRYE, QUINN, ANDERSON, McCOY and WYNN. The eternal quest for a franchise passer rages on. Brandon Weeden has lukewarm support from the organization, but the soon-to-be-30-year-old signal-caller must prove he can make faster, smarter decisions. I suspect Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner have something up their sleeves here. A trade down in Round 1 would allow Cleveland to recoup that lost second-round pick (spent on Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft) and possibly set up a deal for New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. If none of that works, pulling 49-year-old Bernie Kosar out of retirement would at least sell tickets.
2013 draft picks: 17 (1st round), 48 (2nd), 79 (3rd), 115 (4th), 150 (5th), 186 (6th), 206 (6th), 223 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Outside linebacker.
Other spots to address: Wide receiver, cornerback, running back, safety, defensive end, quarterback.
Prospects who fit: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia; Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State; Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee; Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington; Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia; Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M; Eric Reid, FS, LSU.
The Steelers are on the hook to nail this draft to the wall. As Gregg Rosenthal pointed out, general manager Kevin Colbert's hands-off policy in free agency is a sound strategy -- provided your draft class blooms annually. However, Pittsburgh hasn't gotten that production from defenders Ziggy Hood, Jason Worilds and Cameron Heyward. With needs all over the field, the Steelers are under pressure to hit the jackpot with their eight picks.
James Harrison's replacement must be found at outside linebacker. LaMarr Woodley is solid on the left side, but Worilds could lose his job to a surging rookie.
After Mike Wallace packed his money-lined bags for South Beach, the Steelers did what they had to do to keep the Patriots from scooping up Emmanuel Sanders. Still, Big Ben could no doubt use more help. Luckily for Pittsburgh, there's plenty of receiving talent in this draft. Running back, meanwhile, is another sore spot for the Steelers. Last year's committee approach was a Band-Aid. And with Heath Miller coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, targeting a pass-catching tight end is less of a luxury than some believe. In Colbert we trust?
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.