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AFC North News Watch: Day 27

AFC NORTH TEAMS

It was not particularly surprising to find that Easter Sunday was a rather slow news day around not just the AFC North, but throughout the entire league as a whole. Realistically, the most significant happening of the day was the NFL Network revealing that fans evidently voted the most recent Super Bowl as the greatest game of all time, over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most recent trophy during the 2008 season.

In the meantime, I sense a convergence of factors drawing the Baltimore Ravens toward drafting on offense in the first round, and not just because their defense is currently better than their offense.

The Ravens have not taken an offensive player with their first selection in a draft since 2009. That would seem unthinkable for an organization such as the Steelers, who prefer to alternate in the first round if feasible. Yet the Steelers seem likely to make it three years in a row that they go defense first, with valid reason.

Beyond that, I feel that the focus narrows even more specifically on the wide receiver position. Of course, they lost one of their starters in Torrey Smith signing elsewhere, and as much as they want to praise the depth that they have, the reality is that they don’t have much proven talent at the position, and their top wide receiver is near the end of his career.

The Ravens are one of two teams that have failed to draft a receiver earlier than the sixth round over the past three drafts. For comparison’s sake, the Steelers have drafted two in that span, or three if you want to include Dri Archer. Bottom line, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Ravens’ first pick is a wide receiver. After all, you have to give Joe Flacco somebody to throw to if you’re paying him all of that money.

There was an interesting comment yesterday from Joe Thomas, one of the core members of the Cleveland Browns as arguably the best left tackle in the entire league. He spoke on the radio yesterday morning, during which he was asked about one of the team’s first-round draft picks from the year before, quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Thomas told his hosts that Manziel lost a lot of trust last year by the way he handled himself. Obviously this isn’t exactly a revelation—after all, he is still in rehab as I write this—but it’s different when you hear it from one of his teammates rather than from a news outlet.

As for the Steelers, it appears that Pittsburgh has largely hunkered down for the next few weeks as they put themselves in a bubble in preparation for the draft. Which means, unfortunately, that they probably won’t be seeing your mock draft until at least after the draft, at the earliest.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who, have largely gone silent, following a pretty busy offseason so far. The one remaining unresolved piece seems to be the tight end position and whether they would like to add a piece in free agency prior to the draft.

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