Rivals.com has partnered with NFL scout and draft expert Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com to analyze the five biggest needs of each NFL team. Today, we look at the AFC North.
Top cornerbacks are usually in high demand, and a few teams from the AFC North will be particularly interested in some ofthe best cornerbacks available in the 2008 NFL Draft, like Troy's Leodis McKelvin. Frank Coyle breaks down the most pressing needs for each of the teams in the AFC North.
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (First Year) Key needs:
1. Quarterback 2. Cornerback 3. Offensive tackle
1. Quarterback: The Ravens have addressed this area often in recent years and most likely will look to add a top prospect in the early rounds. They love Boston College's Matt Ryan but would have to move up to at least the No. 3 spot to secure him. They also like Michigan's Chad Henne and Delaware's Joe Flacco in the second round and see both as fine NFL starters within a short time.
2. Cornerback: The Ravens' starting corners, Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, are both over 31, and there is only marginal talent as backups. The Ravens hope to upgrade this position and probably early in the draft; with the No. 8 overall pick, they should have a chance at corners such as Troy's Leodis McKelvin and Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Ravens may address this position more than once and most likely in the middle rounds.
3. Offensive tackle: The Ravens have addressed this unit often over recent years with success. In a good class of tackles, they could look to Boise State's Ryan Clady in the first round and USC's Sam Baker in the second round. They like Northern Iowa's Brandon Keith and UTEP's Oniel Cousins in the middle rounds. They will also look to add an interior lineman, and have Rutgers' Jeremy Zuttah on their short list in the middle rounds.
4. Linebacker: The Ravens lack depth here and most likely will look to add a prospect in the middle rounds. They like Georgia Tech's Darrell Robertson and Georgia's Marcus Howard in the fourth round. They would like to upgrade at both the inside and outside spots.
5. Wide receiver: The Ravens could find prospects such as Indiana's James Hardy and Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly available in the second round; both are good fits for their offense.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9 in 2007)
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (Sixth Year) Key needs:
1. Linebacker 2. Defensive tackle 3. Tight end
1. Linebacker: The Bengals have addressed this unit with several high picks recently ? but with poor results. They hold the No. 9 overall and like USC's Keith Rivers for either outside spot. They also like Virginia Tech's Xavier Adibi and Maryland's Erin Henderson in the second round.
2. Defensive tackle: This is another area the Bengals have addressed often with only marginal success. They need a good run-stuffing playmaker and a prospect with an early starting grade. They like USC's Sedrick Ellis in the first round and have him as a high priority. They also like Notre Dame's Trevor Laws and Maryland's Dre Moore in the second round.
3. Tight end: The Bengals have not addressed this area recently and they hope to add a fast catch-first player with one of their top-100 selections. They should have a chance at the top prospects in the second round. They like Notre Dame's John Carlson and Purdue's Dustin Keller, and either could be a difference-maker in this attack. They also would consider USC's Fred Davis and Texas A&M's Martellus Bennett in the third round.
4. Safety: This has been a trouble area in recent seasons and losing starter Madieu Williams in free agency makes this a high priority. The Bengals need a young playmaker and like NC State's DaJuan Morgan and could select him with their No. 2 pick. He is capable of starting ? and possibly early ? in this scheme. They also like Arkansas State's Tyrell Johnson in the third round.
5. Running back: The Bengals have seen feature back Rudi Johnson slip over recent seasons. They could have their choice of the top runners, including Arkansas' Darren McFadden. They love Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall and he could be a surprise selection with the No. 9 overall pick.
Cleveland Browns (10-6 in 2007)
Head Coach: Romeo Crennel (Fourth Year) Key needs:
1. Cornerback 2. Linebacker 3. Running back
1. Cornerback: They could address this area in the middle rounds, as there is little overall depth in the secondary. The Browns would like to add a potential starting corner and a cover man ready to fill the nickel role. They will consider Colorado's Terrence Wheatley and Nebraska's Zack Bowman in the fourth round, and also like Kent State's Jack Williams and USF's Trae Williams on the second day.
2. Linebacker: The Browns would love to add another young 'backer. They are hoping a prospect such as UCLA's Bruce Davis, Georgia Tech's Darrell Robertson or Georgia's Marcus Howard falls to the No. 122 overall selection. All could be available in the fourth round.
3. Running back: The Browns hope to add a young runner in this deep class, which means several solid prospects should fall beyond the top-100 selections. With their fourth- or fifth-round picks, they most likely would get a chance at runners such as West Virginia's Steve Slaton, USC's Chauncey Washington, Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice or Missouri's Tony Temple.
4. Nose tackle: Cleveland needs strong run-pluggers for its two-gap scheme. The Browns like Texas A&M's Red Bryant, Iowa State's Ahtyba Rubin and Texas' Frank Okam, and each could be available into the fourth and fifth round.
5. Wide receiver: The Browns hope to add a receiver with return skills late in the draft. West Virginia's Darius Reynaud, NC State's Darrell Blackmon and Utah State's Kevin Robinson are possibilities.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 in 2007)
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (Second Year) Key needs:
1. Offensive tackle 2. Cornerback 3. Center/guard
1. Offensive tackle: The Steelers have had a tremendous legacy along the line but face a key offseason. They want to upgrade at each position and could start with tackle with the 23rd overall selection. They probably will have a chance at tackles such as Boston College's Gosder Cherilus and USC's Sam Baker, and have them on their short list.
2. Cornerback: The Steelers have marginal depth and could use their top selection to address this position. They may have a chance at Arizona's Antoine Cason and Oklahoma's Reggie Smith in the first round and Auburn's Pat Lee and Iowa's Charles Godfrey in the second.
3. Center/guard: The Steelers lost starting guard Alan Faneca in free agency. They could add Arizona State center Mike Pollak in the middle rounds. They probably have a chance any guard prospect except Virginia's Branden Albert and hope that Toledo's John Greco or Pitt's Mike McGlynn are available in the third round.
4. Wide receiver: The Steelers have little depth here and should address this position with a top-100 selection. They hope prospects such as Vanderbilt's Earl Bennett, Kansas State's Jordy Nelson or Virginia Tech's Eddie Royal are available in the third round.
5. Defensive line: Each of the three starters will be 30 early this season, and there are marginal backups and little depth. Pittsburgh could address nose tackle and end in this draft. The Steelers like ends Jason Jones (Michigan State), Keilen Dykes (West Virginia) and Kendall Langford (Hampton) in the middle rounds. They are interested in nose tackles Ahtyba Rubin (Iowa State) and Frank Morton (Tulane) on the second day.
This is special to Rivals.com from Frank Coyle. Coyle has written about the NFL Draft in his newsletter for more than 15 years and has endorsements from NFL veterans like Gil Brandt, Phil Savage and Charley Casserly. Coyle's work can also be found at draftinsiders.com or you may call him toll-free at 800-776-1949.