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State of AFC North: Ravens and Steelers turn heads with player visits; Browns fill unconventional front office

The Steelers are looking ahead to future needs this offseason. A star Baltimore player is heading straight to Flint, Mich to get hands on. The Browns continue to travel off the beaten path filling their front office.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason is in full swing for the AFC North as players are at the Pro Bowl, and coaches are scouting at the Senior Bowl. The Steelers chose an interesting prospect for their first official meeting. Ravens running back Justin Forsett is looking to help those in need during his offseason. Browns tight end Gary Barnidge parlayed his breakout season into a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, but is he a one year wonder?

Baltimore Ravens

While the NFL is in the middle of what might it's worst PR stretch in recent history it shouldn't be lost on fans that there are plenty of players making a positive impact on the world. You don't have to look any further than the help sent to Flint, Michigan. Flint is in the midst of a state of emergency as their water supply is contaminated with lead far past the acceptable levels. Justin Forsett is on his way to help however he can. It'd be easy for a player to just go about his business after ending the year on Injured/Reserve, but Forsett decided he would lend a hand however he could. Good for him. Hopefully it leads to even more help from around the country.

The Ravens took C.J. Mosley in the first round of the 2014 draft. Now they're meeting with yet another linebacker from Alabama, Reggie Ragland. It is a little surprising they'd set their sights on such a highly sought after linebacker considering the team's other needs with the sixth overall pick, but then again, most meetings this early in the pre-draft process are nothing more than check-ins. The Ravens have had a great history as far as draft picks go, so far be it for me to question what they're doing. They've earned the benefit of the doubt.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns are not a team that has earned the benefit of the doubt. The Browns have continually found failure in a vast majority of their decisions for over a decade. Now it looks like they've decided being conventional isn't for them. The Browns have had a controversial offseason so far as it comes to building their front office. They started with putting Sashi Brown in charge of player personnel, giving him the final say on the roster. Then they brought in Paul DePodesta, famous for bringing "Moneyball" to the MLB. They put these two in charge of building the team despite their minimal experience doing such a thing in the NFL. More recently, the Browns hired Andrew Berry, former pro scouting coordinator for the Colts, as their Vice President of Player Personnel. The title is essentially a long way of saying he's the GM without the GM power. Chris Pokorny of Dawgs by Nature explains the situation:

Haslam stated that the person's primary role would be "talent evaluation." Sashi Brown, the executive vice president of football operations, later clarified that it would actually be a "vice president of player personnel" position.

Well the Browns haven't found success with the traditional route, as far as the the front office goes, so maybe switching it up might yield some results for them. The only thing we can all do is stand back and see if the Browns can dig any deeper than rock bottom.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have met with USC quarterback Cody Kessler at the Senior Bowl. It raises some eyebrows clearly, but it makes sense as Ben Roethlisberger will be 34 at the start of next season and has already started to show signs of durability issues. Jeff Hartman of Beyond the Steel Curtain brings up another reason why they might be targeting quarterbacks.
Landry Jones still has one year left on his current contract, but every other quarterback in the system is now a free agent, Bruce Gradkowski and Mike Vick. The team clearly liked what they saw from Jones in 2015 in relief, and might be looking to draft a young quarterback to possibly be the No. 3 quarterback, and take over the No. 2 duties when Jones' current contract expires.
Realistically both could be true. They could bring along a late round quarterback as the third stringer and have him learn from Roethlisberger and Jones. Then depending on how Pittsburgh feels about Jones they could let him walk in free agency and let the drafted quarterback become the heir to the quarterback position in Pittsburgh.