The NFL draft is drawing closer and closer, which makes this a good time to take a look a positions the opposing AFC North teams will be looking to upgrade.
Of course the Browns need help at most positions, but they did recently finish getting rid of all their quarterbacks from last season.
The Browns have been infamous since their reincarnation of going through quarterbacks like tissues. This offseason has been particularly bad though. The team traded off all of their quarterbacks from the 2017 season, which makes sense considering they failed to win a game.
Of course, at the top of the list was DeShone Kizer. The team drafted him in the second round, but Cleveland could easily be criticized for their handling of the young quarterback. Hue Jackson did a complete 180 from his time coaching Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Instead of letting the rookie play through his bad games, he was often pulled right after interceptions.
The Browns started the year hoping Kizer could get through the bumps and bruises of being a rookie quickly, but after they destroyed his confidence it was clear there was no repairing that relationship. The Packers called and traded for the quarterback.
Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler also received playing time. Kessler was supposed to be the diamond in the rough for the analytic regime. After two seasons of struggling without support from Jackson, Kessler was traded to the Jaguars.
Hogan received more playing time during the beginning of the season, and he even started a game. However, it was clear this offseason with the Browns trading for Tyrod Taylor and likely using one of their top five picks on a quarterback that Hogan would be the odd man out. He asked for a change of scenery and received it in the form of a trip to Washington.
It seems like the future is brighter with Taylor and a possible top five quarterback, but this scene seems all too familiar to get optimistic about.
The Ravens are looking to finally add someone to be excited about offensively for Joe Flacco via the draft. The Ravens currently are without their top receivers from 2017 in Benjamin Watson, Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. There is little chance any of them will be back with the team. The Ravens did go out and sign Michael Crabtree and John Brown in free agency, but they will be the most obvious landing spot for Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley in round one.
Ridley is the best receiver in this draft, but that doesn’t mean he is a transcendent talent. He is a good receiver, but he just isn’t great. He is benefiting from a weak receiver class. Still the Raven need more than a receiver.
The Ravens need to start thinking about pass rushing with Terrell Suggs reaching the edge of his career. They have been trying to draft ahead of this for a few years, but aside from Matt Judon who tallied eight sacks last season, none of them got more than four sacks on the year. If Baltimore loses Suggs and fails to find a replacement then they could be in serious trouble,
The Ravens should also consider restocking their offensive line. Ronnie Stanley is a beast, but the team has been consistently watching their offensive linemen walk in free agency. The most recent departure was Ryan Jensen who was great for them in the running game. So far the Ravens have been able to survive these losses, but take it from a team who saw their offensive line become last on the priority list, you need to protect your quarterback.
As for the Steelers, the simple answer is they need to improve their secondary. The team released Mike Mitchell who was a liability in coverage, but the rest of the secondary had issues as well. Adding a corner or safety in the first round will likely be their priority.
Although, if a middle linebacker falls to them, I’m sure they won’t hesitate to scoop him up. The sad truth is they can’t expect Ryan Shazier to return to the field after suffering such a horrific injury.
Really, one of the only other needs the team may have (and I use that term loosely) is running back. How the Steelers play this draft should give a real indication if they are committed to giving Le’Veon Bell a huge contract next season.
They could look to find his possible replacement in this years draft. The position has a number of plug and play guys. While none of them come close to Bells’ level of talent, they come at a fraction of a cost.
To a cap-strapped team like the Steelers, that could end up being a huge move.