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February 14, 2008

AFC North: Cornerbacks in high demand

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 the best cornerbacks available in the 2008 NFL Draft, like Oklahoma's Reggie Smith. Frank Coyle breaks down the most pressing needs for each of the teams in the AFC North.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens | Cincinnati Bengals | Cleveland Browns | Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore Ravens (5-11 in 2007)
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (First Year)
Key needs: 1. Quarterback 2. Cornerback 3. Linebacker
1. Quarterback: The Ravens' endless search for a quarterback continues. They could trade for veteran Donovan McNabb or draft Matt Ryan (if he's still on the board) or Brian Brohm.
2. Cornerback: Both starters, Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, will be over 31 by opening day. This is the biggest need on defense.
3. Linebacker: Terrell Suggs will probably get the franchise tag this week, but this front seven has little depth and is starting to show its age.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9 in 2007)
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (Sixth Year)
Key needs: 1. Defensive end 2. Linebacker 3. Running back
1. Defensive end: Starters Justin Smith and Bryan Robinson are free agents, and this area may command multiple additions.
2. Linebacker: This weak unit has been a disaster. The Bengals have had many draft busts and little production here.
3. Running back: The offense lacks balance, and Cincinnati could land a good runner in this deep draft class.
Cleveland Browns (10-6 in 2007)
Head Coach: Romeo Crennel (Fourth Year)
Key needs: 1. Cornerback 2. Wide receiver 3. Defensive line
1. Cornerback: The defense gives up too many big plays and a good cover man is a must to challenge for a playoff spot.
2. Wide receiver: The team needs a playmaker on the outside to take the pressure off Pro Bowl receiver Braylon Edwards.
3. Defensive line: Cleveland will be looking for more playmakers up front. They will put an emphasis on pass rushers.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 in 2007)
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (Second Year)
Key needs: 1. Offensive line 2. Cornerback 3. Nose tackle
1. Offensive line: The Steelers front line is a mess, with tackle and guard being very high priorities.
2. Cornerback: There is little depth here, and it could command one of their top three picks in the Draft.
3. Nose tackle: Casey Hampton has a lot of mileage on him and will be 31 years old by opening 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.



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