AFC North mock roundup: Who the Ravens' rivals might draft

April 28, 2011|By Matt Vensel

If you've been reading our draft coverage, you know by now which players are on the Ravens' radar and whom the draft experts have the Ravens selecting in their mock drafts. But what about the Ravens' AFC North rivals in Cincinnati, Cleveland in Pittsburgh?

Because I am pumped for the draft, I've compiled the first-round picks for the Bengals, the Browns and the Steelers from the mock drafts of five prominent analysts. Here are their projections:

Cincinnati Bengals (picking fourth overall):

Brian Billick, FOXSports.com: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia -- “With Green, both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are expendable, and Green is a future star. Maybe this will be enough to convince Carson Palmer to play. If not, the Bengals can address the quarterback vacancy through free agency. “

Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri -- “Whether they'll admit it or not, the Bengals will look for a quarterback to succeed Carson Palmer. Gabbert, who rarely threw downfield at Missouri, isn't as football-smart or as prepared to play in new coordinator Jay Gruden's quick-decision passing scheme as some of the other quarterbacks coming out, like TCU's Andy Dalton.”

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia  -- “We know that Cincinnati is still dealing with questions at quarterback, but whether the Bengals' answer is to trade Carson Palmer, somehow keep him or perhaps try to import the likes of Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb or someone else, they'll need to help whoever will be throwing the ball in 2011 and beyond. This is one I'm sticking with -- by drafting the best pure pass-catching talent in the draft, they help the QB, and also fill holes from obvious departures. Green is an immediate starter and a rare big-time, physical, fast receiver who has the route-running skills and understanding to help right away.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia -- “I struggled with this pick. Could easily be a quarterback, but Green has a rare skill set. I almost picked Blaine Gabbert here, but I really believe with the uncertainty over T.O. they go Green here.”

Todd McShay, ESPN: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia -- “We hear the Bengals are not sold on QB Blaine Gabbert at this point and Green is an elite talent who could fill the void left by the likely departures of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.”

Cleveland Browns (picking sixth overall):

Billick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- “Cleveland may have the worst receiving corps in the league, and Jones gives it an immediate upgrade. Jones runs the best intermediate routes in the draft and will be a tough over-the-middle option for Colt McCoy.”

King: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- “The Browns are desperate for an edge rusher, and they may reach for Robert Quinn of North Carolina. They shouldn't. Quinn's a terrific prospect and probably the best pass-rushing end in this draft. But Cleveland has zero weapons in the passing game for new West Coast coach Pat Shurmur, and with Mike Holmgren having final say over football ops, I'd be surprised if he didn't make the obvious pick: a topflight receiver and blocker in Jones.”

Kiper: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- “Jones is by far the best consolation prize in the draft, as the Ohio franchises combine to clear the board of the top wideouts. This is a guy Colt McCoy will love. Jones' size and speed combination is the best in the draft at the position and his development as a wideout over the past year shows a determination and work ethic that will be loved by the coaching staff. The Browns need a true No. 1 at wide receiver, and if healthy, Jones can be that guy. A gifted athlete, what you love about Jones is that he blocks as hard as he runs routes. He played hard while in pain last season at Alabama.”

Mayock: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- “This is a tough position for the Browns, who would like to get an edge rusher with this pick. But new coach Pat Shurmur is an offensive guy. I love Jones, who will help protect the development of young quarterback Colt McCoy.”

McShay: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- “Team president Mike Holmgren gets a go-to weapon for second-year QB Colt McCoy and a player who is a pro's pro right now.”

Pittsburgh Steelers (picking 31st overall):

Billick: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas -- “Williams will be a better safety in the NFL, but he will play nickel immediately in Pittsburgh and give the Steelers instant depth in the secondary and push for a starting role.”

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