AFC North Analysis/Team Needs

Though unusually quiet as divisions go in free agency this year, the AFC Central is building itself into a division that is both talented and competitive. Two teams have focused on offensive skill positions, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Cincinnati has focused more on adding supplemental players after missing out on DT Warren Sapp. Baltimore, meanwhile, has added no new personnel to speak of, outside the owner's box, after the Terrell Owens debacle.

Heading into the draft each of these teams is looking to make some moves with the Bengals recently trading down and Baltimore without a first round pick due to the Kyle Boller trade from a year ago.

Baltimore Ravens


Marcus Robinson, Terrell Owens

Offensive Analysis: The fiasco that was the Terrell Owens trade will leave a black eye on this franchise for years to come. Why Owens didn't want to be a Raven is likely a simple reason like the fact that the 49ers traded him there. Either way, though the Ravens came out with an extra 5th round pick for their troubles, they lost any opportunity to re-sign their best WR, Marcus Robinson, or to upgrade the position.

Defensive Analysis: With nothing really changed here, the Ravens probably feel good about their team. As long as they have Ray Lewis, and a decent supporting cast, they are likely to be a great defensive team. Some more defensive line help and perhaps another CB is not out of the question but all in all the Ravens need to focus mostly on offense.

Draft Analysis: With no first round pick the Ravens could be in trouble. They are fortunate, however, that their biggest need is also this drafts deepest position, WR. They could also use some depth along both lines and in the secondary, but their biggest weakness is by far at WR. It is not inconceivable that they could try and trade up into the early second, using their extra 5th round choice as bait, but that is unlikely to get them much higher.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bobbie Williams, Nate Webster, Deltha O'Neal, Kim Herring

Mark Roman, Artrell Hawkins, Mike Goff

Offensive Analysis: Offensively, the Bengals have done nothing major other than adding G Bobbie Williams to their roster. Williams should compete to be the starter at RG, and assuming the Bengals can deal disgruntled RB Corey Dillon, they should be able to sustain their effective play from last season without the distractions affiliated with him.

Defensive Analysis: Though they missed out on Warren Sapp, and have as a result have not added any defensive linemen, signing the athletic LB Nate Webster and the experienced safety Kim Herring should greatly benefit this defense. Trading for Deltha O'Neal gives the Bengals a decent three CB's at the top of their roster.

Draft Analysis: The extra 4th round pick the Bengals got in the Denver deal from earlier in the week, along with whatever they will get when they deal Corey Dillon, will give them the flexibility to move up in the middle rounds for players that they want who fall further than expected. The Bengals have need along both lines and at RB should Dillon be traded. Defensive backfield depth is also something they should consider.

Cleveland Browns

Jeff Garcia, Terrelle Smith, Ebenezer Ekuban

Chris Gardocki, Jamel White, Barry Stokes, Shaun O'Hara

Offensive Analysis: The Browns will finally cut ties with Tim Couch and either release or trade him. Jeff Garcia will now run the offense and Terrelle Smith was brought in to be the lead blocker for either William Green or Lee Suggs. Dennis Northcutt could still be dealt, which should yield a nice draft pick or player in return. Regardless of Northcutt's status, the Browns will likely take either a TE or a WR somewhere in the early part of the draft to help open up their offense.

Defensive Analysis: Defensively the Browns lost backup DB Lewis Sanders, which isn't a huge loss, but the Browns do have some needs here. None of their defensive linemen are dominant players, despite having 2 top 10 picks starting for them. More help is needed at almost any spot on this defense.

Draft Analysis: DE, DT, OT, LB, CB, WR, TE … The list goes on and on for the Browns. Head coach Butch Davis has done a decent job with this team despite their poor talent. It is impossible for The Browns to fill all of their needs, but with Davis finally getting all of the juice in the organization look for him to make some waves.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Duce Staley, Travis Kirschke, Chris Gardocki

Josh Miller, DeWayne Washington, Mark Bruener, Amos Zereoue

Offensive Analysis: Exit Zereoue, enter Staley. This addition was important for the Steelers because it filled one of their primary needs for the next few seasons. The Steelers love Phillip Rivers and likely will not pass on him considering their need for a starting QB soon. It is unclear what the Steelers plan to do in later rounds however. Plaxico Burress is a UFA next season and it's not out of the question for Pittsburgh to let him walk. Taking an impact WR in this draft would be in their best interest.

Defensive Analysis: Travis Kirschke could wind up being a steal for the Steelers. He played well for the 49ers last season and is probably better suited to playing end in a 3-4 scheme. There is likely no move that will help this team more than their decision to cut DeWayne Washington. Based on his play the last few seasons, Washington should have counted against their opponent's salary cap. How, and when, the Steelers replace him is the real question.

Draft Analysis: QB, CB, OT Are the Steelers primary needs. Duce Staley buys them some time at RB for another year but it is a position that they should monitor. WR is a possible need and could be the surprise choice for the Steelers in the early rounds.

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