clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

State of AFC North: Ravens sitting pretty, Browns moving on, Steelers facing tough decision

New, comments

The Ravens couldn't be any happier about the teams sitting in front of them on draft night. The Browns are just waiting to cut ties with Johnny Manziel. Pittsburgh could have to make a tough decision involving one of their most tenured players.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The draft and free agency are fast approaching for the other teams in the AFC North. This week we'll take a look at who the Steelers might be choosing between come draft night, who might be a cap casualty in Baltimore, and how much longer Johnny Manziel will dominate headlines in Cleveland.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens find themselves in a very fortunate situation after an unfortunate season. They have the number six pick in the draft behind teams with far different needs than they have. The early indications is that the Ravens want to end up with one of the premiere defensive talents from this draft in defensive back, Jalen Ramsey, or outside linebacker/ defensive end, Joey Bosa. The current order favors this situation greatly as Ryan Jones of Russell Street Report writes:

While Bosa falling to number six seems unlikely, it’s not impossible. The Titans (1st overall pick) and Chargers (third overall pick) are both in desperate need of help along the offensive line. If Goff and Wentz both go in the top five and the Titans and Chargers both decide to go the left tackle route, either Ramsey or Bosa would fall to Baltimore.

The situation isn't out of the realm of possibilities, but the one pick I'm not sold on is Dallas going with Carson Wentz, or Jared Goff depending on Cleveland's pick. Obviously the Johnny Manziel to Dallas rumors have been speculated pretty frequently, but that is because it is right up Jerry Jones' alley. If you think Manziel's troubles off the field will deter the Cowboys from taking a chance on the quarterback, I'll refer you to Greg Hardy. The Cowboys will likely use this pick on an instant contributor to try and be as competitive as possible with Tony Romo's final few years. Even if Bosa and Ramsey are off the board come Baltimore's pick they will probably have no problem navigating their way down a few picks and drafting their guy while gaining a few more picks.

Cleveland Browns

Well the Manziel saga appears to be at an end. A few weeks ago I inferred that from Hue Jackson's comments Manziel wasn't going to be part of his plan for this team's future. Now it seems after his most recent incident involving his ex-girlfriend, the Browns are being less coy about their plans with the quarterback, and they will cut him as soon as possible.

This leaves just one question, "who's next"? The two routes the Browns will have will be drafting a quarterback or bringing in a free agent, since there will likely be quite a few big name let downs looking for a second chance. One of the more notable ones is Robert Griffin III (remember him?). After an amazing rookie campaign that ended with a catastrophic knee injury, he never reached that same level of play again in Washington. When Jay Gruden took over he soon decided that he preferred Kirk Cousins in his system, and he eventually got his way. Could the Browns take a chance on the quarterback they almost traded up to take? Pat McManamon of ESPN has them going a different route:
To answer the question, remember the words of owner Jimmy Haslam the evening of the season finale: "We do have the No. 2 pick in the draft."

There are three quarterbacks considered worthy of a high draft pick. The Browns could stay at No. 2 and take one, or they could trade down and hope to take one. The Browns also have the 32nd overall pick because the Patriots lost theirs, so the team could take a quarterback at the No. 2 or No. 32 slot or use the 32nd pick to move up for one.
If the Browns draft a quarterback early, my money will be on Jared Goff. Many draft experts are comparing him to Matt Ryan when he came out. Also it feels like after you get dumped (or dump someone) you immediately go out and find the opposite of that person and Goff does seem like the anti-Manziel.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have a few needs come draft night, and quite a few of those needs will depend on who they manage to retain on their roster. One of the players who could be on the chopping block is Lawrence Timmons. Timmons will have a cap hit over $15 million next season. That's a fairly high number for a player at his position. Now the Steelers have had a habit of working around these big cap hits for veterans by turning salaries into bonuses, but Timmons will be 30 by the start of next season. The Steelers also haven't been shy about letting their older linebackers go to make way for their younger players as they did with Joey Porter, James Harrison (before getting him back), and LaMarr Woodley.

The Steelers' biggest need could be their secondary, considering they have three corners set to hit free agency and Cortez Allen may end up being a cap casualty. When the Steelers get set to make their pick, right after the Bengals with pick No. 25, they could be deciding between two studs at the position as Jeff Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain explains:

With the top tier talent likely off the board before the 25th pick, the Steelers could have a serious decision to make with two players who are considered to be first round talent, but not necessarily at the top of the list at their position. The two players? Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech and Eli Apple of Ohio State.

Either way, the Steelers could end up with a very talented rookie in their secondary. Kendall Fuller would be my choice considering he has been an elite talent since showing up at Virginia Tech. He is a ball hawk who will have to learn to take a few less chances, but at worst, he will be a solid nickel corner for years to come, something that is becoming more and more valuable in this passing league.