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2013 NFL Draft Preview: AFC North
By Matt Horkman

Baltimore Ravens

Recent Selections: DT Terrence Cody, DT Arthur Jones, LB Sergio Kindle, OG Kelechi Osemele, TE Dennis Pitta, CB Jimmy Smith, WR Torrey Smith, & LB Courtney Upshaw

Recap: The Ravens are the envy of the league. They have one of the top scouting departments in football and consistently rate as one of the league’s best drafting teams. They hit on late-round prospects with Jones and Pitta, who played key roles in their championship run. Their ‘11 draft featured a pair of Smiths, but Torrey’s the one who stole the show last postseason. He recorded 233 yards and two touchdowns in four playoff games. This is a big year for Osemele and Upshaw. The latter will see an increase in playing in playing time and Osemele will likely settle in as one of the team’s starting guards.

Best Scenario: OT Terron Armstead, LB Jon Bostic, & S Shawn Williams

Draft Preview: Baltimore’s first priority is keeping quarterback Joe Flacco’s jersey clean. Michael Oher is not a left tackle. He struggle there and hasn’t been the same since moving from right tackle. Drafting Armstead to play left tackle and keeping Oher on the right side, where he played during their Super Bowl run, is the right course of action. Armstead would be a surprise pick, but he’s quick-footed with good size and athleticism. Look for the Ravens to replenish the middle of their defense in the rounds that follow.

Cincinnati Bengals

Recent Selections: DT Geno Atkins, OG Clint Boling, QB Andy Dalton, DE Carlos Dunlap, WR A.J. Green, TE Jermaine Gresham, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, & OG Kevin Zeitler

Recap: Give the Bengals credit. They’ve drafted incredibly well the last three years. Atkins and Green are superstars at their respective positions and Zeitler had a dominate rookie year. Injuries kept Kirkpatrick off the field, so the jury remains out on last year’s first pick. All eyes are on Dalton, though. He could take a good haul and turn it great with a breakout 2013 campaign.

Best Scenario: OT D.J. Fluker, DE Damontre Moore, & RB Johnathan Franklin

Draft Preview: Much of this scenario depends on the future of free agent tackle Andre Smith. The Bengals don’t seem close to re-signing the free agent right tackle, so perhaps they should cut their losses. Fluker might be a short-term downgrade, but he’s a long-term upgrade. He’s a mauler with freakish 37-inch arms. The Bengals have a nice history of drafting and developing pass rushers. Moore’s stock is descending because of a poor pre-draft process, but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer never has enough pass rushers. Upgrading the running game is in order and Franklin represents great value in round three, assuming he lasts that long.

Cleveland Browns

Recent Selections: CB Joe Haden, RB Montario Hardesty, WR Greg Little, RB Trent Richardson, OT Mitchell Schwartz, DE Jabaal Sheard, DT Phil Taylor, S T.J. Ward, & QB Brandon Weeden

Recap: Don’t expect Cleveland fans to remember Mike Holmgren’s tenure fondly. The former Super Bowl winning coach accumulated a ton of draft picks, but failed to deliver resounding results. Hardesty and Little are notable busts, but the failure of Holmgren -- a renowned quarterback guru -- to develop a quarterback is unacceptable. While Weeden was just a rookie last season, he’s already 29-years-old. Furthermore, the Browns could’ve drafted Russell Wilson. Defensively, the Browns have one of the ascending units in the league, and defensive coordinator Ray Horton is among the game’s best. Without a quarterback, though, the team will continue sit in the AFC North’s basement. 

Best Scenario: LB Dion Jordan, QB Mike Glennon, & WR Markus WheatonMike Glennon

Draft Preview: Cleveland made one of free agency’s biggest moves when they plucked outside linebacker Paul Kruger away from Baltimore. The Ravens used Kruger as a linebacker and a defensive lineman. I suspect the Browns will follow the same blueprint, so I imagine a scenario of Jordan and Kruger at outside linebacker on first and second down. Look for Kruger to put his hand in the dirt on third down, while Sheard enters the fray as well. In other words, Jordan, Kruger, and Sheard would all be on the field during passing situations. That’s an intimidating pass rush. Offensively, the Browns must upgrade their passing attack. Moving up is an option, but Glennon fits new coach Rob Chudzinski’s system well. He’s a bit of a throwback, but he throws a great deep ball. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Recent Selections: OT Mike Adams, CB Cortez Allen, WR Antonio Brown, OG David DeCastro, RB Jonathan Dwyer, OT Marcus Gilbert, DE Cameron Heyward, C Maurkice Pouncey, WR Emmanuel Sanders, & LB Jason Worilds

Recap: Many of the players above are entering a crucial season. Brown and Pouncey are really the only established players, though Allen’s emerging as a solid corner. Much of the players above expect to player significant roles, though. Adams, DeCastro, and Gilbert could all start on the offensive line. Worilds will compete at outside linebacker and Dwyer is the leading contender to start at running back. If everything comes together, Pittsburgh could be primed for another deep postseason run.

Best Scenario: LB Jarvis Jones, WR Terrance Williams, & RB Johnathan Franklin

Draft Preview: An underwhelming pro day from Jones caused him to drop in the eyes of many. But he’s still an excellent pass rusher with some of the best tape from the 2012 season. He’s a top 20 pick and Pittsburgh might be the furthest he’d fall. The Steelers could then solidify their offense in rounds two and three with Williams and Franklin. Williams isn’t your normal big-bodied wide receiver, as he’s actually one of the cleanest route runners in the draft. Franklin’s good enough to start ahead of Dwyer and his ability as a pass protector makes him a valuable commodity.

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