NFL Team Needs: AFC North


The newest segment for NFLMocks is the NFL Team Needs focus.  We are going to bring you division by division team needs and these needs will be updated throughout the offseason and during the actual season.  And after the season is said and done and free agency has settled we will have the areas your team should address when entering the 2011 NFL Draft.  We encourage you to check out our 2011 NFL Draft Player Scouting Reports, 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Big Board, our 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and our 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Position Rankings.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

  1. Center
  2. Guard
  3. Cornerback

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Thoughts:

The Ravens are one of many teams that feel they are very close to a Super Bowl berth.  The team continues to improve and many feel that the offense has finally caught up to the defense.  However we feel that the top two needs for the Ravens come on the offensive side of the ball at the interior of their offensive line.  The Ravens have vet Matt Birk starting at center and while he is a good player he is starting to show signs of his age (33).  Last offseason the Ravens were not able to hang onto center Jason Brown and in the long run that could prove costly.  Next we slide over to guard where starter Marshal Yanda doesn’t posse the needed strength to be the long term solution at the position.  Both of these spots need to be solidified if the Ravens want to remain in playoff contention year in and year out.  We all know that a hard nosed running game will always be a staple of the Ravens offense.  The Ravens could also use to upgrade their cornerback position.  With the attacking style of defense Baltimore employs they need corners capable of shutting down receivers one on one.

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Cincinnati Bengals

  1. Safety
  2. Running Back
  3. Guard

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Thoughts:

The Bengals are coming off of a great season and they hope to continue to build towards the future and remain atop the AFC North.  To do so they need to continue to add talent to a couple of key positions.  This year they should put a lot of their focus on upgrading the Safety position.  The Cincinnati defense would greatly benefit from adding a ball-hawking safety to the mix.  Both Roy Williams and Chris Crocker just don’t strike enough fear into offensive coordinators.  The NFL is continuing its push towards a two back league and right now the Bengals do not have an adequate backup for starter Cedric Benson.  This past season the Bengals quickly realized how important a consistent running game is and loosing Benson would likely mean a major drop in production from the running game.  Closely related to the running game is the play of the interior linemen.  The Bengals would be wise to add depth and youth to the guard position where top starter Bobby Williams is 33 years old.

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Cleveland Browns

  1. Safety
  2. Defensive End
  3. Outside Linebacker

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Thoughts:

The Cleveland Browns used two of their 2010 draft picks to select safety’s TJ Ward and Larry Asante.  However, many are skeptical of both picks and I feel that the rest of the Safety unit is rather weak.  Abram Elam is a decent player but not one player in the unit really demands attention and for that reason the Browns should closely monitor the progress of the rookies and maybe consider adding some more pieces to this puzzle.  The defensive ends for the Cleveland Browns are rapidly aging and under-performing. Finding replacements for both Kenyon Coleman and Robaire Smith have to high on the list of things to do.  Lastly the Browns need to add a player capable of creating pressure on the quarterback.  Matt Roth is currently slated to start at one of the outside linebacker positions and while he is a respectable player he is not able to create the pressure this defense needs.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  1. Tackle
  2. Wide Receiver
  3. Nose Tackle

Thoughts:

This has been a rough offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which saw a lot of controversy.  If the Steelers want to get back to Super Bowl contention they will need to address a few specific areas.  The offseason injury to Willie Colon only magnified the Steelers lack of talent at the tackle position.  For years the Steelers flourished with a power running attack and if they want to continue with that style they will need to solidify to both tackle positions.  One of the changes this offseason included the trade of Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to the Jets.  The trade of Holmes and the injury and lack of development of Limas Sweed makes the receiver position a must watch area.  Second year pro Mike Wallace will see increased responsibilities as will vet Hines Ward.  Another staple of the Pittsburgh Steelers is good defense and the Pittsburgh defense has enjoyed the Pro Bowl play of Casey Hampton.  However, Hampton is aging and if the Steelers wish to continue to boast a top defense they need to worry about a long term replacement for Hampton.

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Tags: 2011 Mock Draft 2011 NFL Draft 2011 NFL Draft Player Scouting Reports 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Big Board 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Position Rankings Abram Elam AFC North Team Needs Baltimore Baltimore Ravens Bobby Williams Casey Hampton Cedric Benson Chris Crocker Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Hampton Hines Ward Jason Brown Jets Kenyon Coleman Larry Asante Limas Sweed Marshal Yanda Matt Birk Matt Roth Mike Wallace Mock Draft NFL NFL Draft NFL Mock Draft NFL Team Needs NFLMocks Pro Bowl Ravens Robaire Smith Roy Williams Santonio Holmes Super Bowl Super Bowl MVP TJ Ward Willie Colon