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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: AFC North

By Steven Weldon

Let's take on the AFC North!


The Bengals are at a turning point. The running game is looking solid for the future with Joe Mixon, their passing attack is effective with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert, but could the one piece holding them back be Andy Dalton? The Bengals hired Zac Taylor as their new head coach, and it may be time to change the guard in southern Ohio.

On the other hand, Dalton is only 32 and may hold stable for the next few years. The Bengals have a large need for a linebacker, and now that the head-case Vontaze Burfict is gone, it's time to get the Bengals defense back to nasty. Devin Bush or Devin White may fall to the #11 pick, but if neither are available they can always prepare for the future and pick up quarterback Drew Lock from Missouri. They still have the #25 pick in the first round, and a different quarterback in Daniel Jones of Duke could be available too.

NEED: QB of the future, a new linebacker corps leader.
WANT: Andy Dalton to go nuclear with his weapons next season.
QUESTIONS: How will the team respond after Marvin Lewis' departure after a million years with the team?


BREAK UP THE BROWNIES! The Browns are poised to finally make the playoffs this season, and by golly, there's no tricks or curse on this run. Baker Mayfield is here and he's got Odell Beckham Jr. to throw to. They've taken a flyer on the now-risky Kareem Hunt, but their offense was quite good last season. The Browns don't have a first-round pick, but some value could be found in their second and later rounds.

Look for the Browns to target undervalued defensive players such as defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons, who is very talented, but suffered an ACL injury last season. Another good play would be a cornerback, such as Justin Layne of Michigan State. There's no true weakness on this Browns team, but it will be more exciting when games aren't being played on paper.

NEED: To both develop for the future and win now at the same time.
WANT: Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield to have spectacular years and make the playoffs.
QUESTIONS: Is this for real? Can this year be different?


What a circus. Leveon Bell has gone off to the J-E-T-S and Antonio Brown was traded to the Raiders. Alas, it's time to turn the page. James Conner played his tail off in place of Bell this season, and Juju Smith-Schuster has quickly risen to one of the better receivers in the game. It only appears that to stay the course and improve, the passing offense needs to have more stability. Noah Fant, a tight end from Iowa could be a safe option here. They could also choose an Ole Miss wide receiver, one of AJ Brown or D.K Metcalf.

The hallmark of the Steelers has always been defense, and they do need to improve if they are to make the playoffs. A rookie outside linebacker will definitely help, and they ought to look at Brian Burns out of Florida State. 

NEED: 53 men playing for each other, rather than where they get their next contract.
WANT: Ben Rothlisberger to stay standing. They need it too.
QUESTIONS: Will the Steelers be the odd team out again this season?


It's Lamar Jackson's team now. He's got the legs, but that won't be enough to carry the offense. He still needs some talent to pass to since both his main targets in Michael Crabtree and John Brown left in free agency, it's time to get the wide receiver of the future. Marquise Brown of Oklahoma would be a great pick here, as well as Parris Campbell. 

While the Ravens made the playoffs this past season, they're sitting in a tough division that got even better than they attempted to improve this offseason. It's a wait and see on this team, but the season lives and dies on Lamar Jackson's legs.

NEED: Receivers.
WANT: Receivers.
QUESTIONS: Is this team good enough to match last season?

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