2011 NFL Draft Needs: AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches play against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on August 29, 2010 in Denver. Tomlin’s Steelers lost to the Broncos 34-17. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

2011 NFL Draft Needs: AFC East | AFC North | NFC East | NFC North

No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals
Top Needs: WR, S, DE, QB
If the Bengals trade Carson Palmer this offseason then quarterback obviously moves to the top of the list, but as of right now it appears as if Palmer will be the team’s starter for at least one more season. Receiver is a definite area of concern, as Terrell Owens is a free agent and it’s uncertain if Chad Ochocinco will be back. If he isn’t, then they’ll need a No. 1 (Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell are good players, but neither of them are top guys) and could target A.J. Green with the No. 4 pick. Defensively, finding a free safety is a must because Chris Crocker is average at best and Roy Williams (the team’s strong safety) is a liability in coverage. They added Reggie Nelson, but he’s struggled since his rookie season and isn’t reliable. Defensive end isn’t a pressing need because they have Carlos Dunlap, Robert Geathers, Antwan Odom and Michael Johnson, but Geathers is a rotational guy, Odom is injury-prone and Johnson is still a project. It may be hard for the Bengals to pass on D’aQuan Bowers if he falls to No. 4.
First Round Possibilities: D’aQuan Bowers (Clemson), A.J. Green (Georgia), Nick Fairley (Auburn), Cam Newton (Auburn), Robert Quinn (North Carolina).

No. 6 Cleveland Browns
Top Needs: WR, DE, LB, OT
Mike Holmgren found a head coach in Pat Shurmur to run his West Coast Offense and if we’re under the assumption that the Browns have their quarterback in Colt McCoy, then the team has two main priorities this offseason: Get younger and better on defense and find a true No. 1 wideout. Mohamed Massaquoi has flashed enough potential to be viewed as a starter, but is he a true No. 1? Because if he’s not and A.J. Green is sitting there at No. 6, it may be hard for Holmgren not to pull the trigger on the most NFL-ready prospect in the entire draft. If Green isn’t there and Holmgren isn’t sold on Alabama’s Julio Jones being a No. 1, then the Browns will likely address their defense. Robaire Smith is a free agent and has likely spent his last days in Cleveland. Shaun Rogers was just released. Derreck Robinson and Brian Schaefering are better options off the bench or in a rotation, and Kenyon Coleman is entering the final year of his contract. Suffice it to say, the Browns have needs along the defensive line, which is good seeing as how that position is the deepest in the draft. I also wouldn’t rule out the Browns taking another cornerback, seeing as how Eric Wright is a free agent and Sheldon Brown isn’t getting any younger.
First Round Possibilities: A.J. Green (Georgia), Julio Jones (Alabama), Marcell Dareus (Alabama), Nick Fairley (Auburn), Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Prince Amukamara (Nebraska), Patrick Peterson (LSU).

No. 26 Baltimore Ravens
Top Needs: WR, CB, DE, OT
Getting Domonique Foxworth back from injury will help, but both Josh Wilson (who was a pleasant surprise last year) and Chris Carr are free agents so cornerback will be targeted at some point this offseason. Don’t be shocked if the Ravens nab a receiver in the first round. Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason are solid, but they’re aging and there’s a good chance that neither T.J. Houshmandzadeh nor Donte Stallworth will be back next year after contributing very little last season. Upgrades are needed at both defensive end and offensive tackle, as well.
First Round Possibilities: Patrick Peterson (LSU), Brandon Harris (Miami), Cam Heyward (Ohio State), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Aaron Williams (Texas), Allen Bailey (Miami), Mike Pouncey (Florida), Titus Young (Boise State).

No. 31 Pittsburgh Steelers
Top Needs: OT, CB, S
Mike Tomlin’s squad doesn’t have many holes to fill but there’s no doubt that pieces need to be added at the offensive tackle position. The Steelers like the combination of Max Starks and Willie Colon, but both are coming off injuries and backup Jonathan Scott (who is a free agent) probably won’t be back. Even if Flozell Adams sticks around for another year, they need to get a franchise left tackle at some point. If they do, they could move Starks back to the right side and move Colon inside at guard, strengthening the entire unit. The cornerback position will likely be addressed at some point this offseason, too. Ike Taylor is a free agent and while the Steelers would like to keep him, he’s 31 so they probably won’t break the bank. Bryant McFadden is serviceable but the team could stand to get younger in their defensive backfield.
First Round Possibilities: Mike Pouncey (Steelers), Anthony Castonzo (Boston College), Tryon Smith (USC), Cam Heyward (Ohio State), Brandon Harris (Miami), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Allen Bailey (Miami), Aaron Williams (Texas).

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