2012 NFL Draft: Today's War Room Thoughts for Every AFC North Team for 2/27
The NFL Scouting Combine is still underway in Indianapolis, which means each team in the AFC North has the draft very much on their minds today. Considering all we've seen out of this year's draft prospects in the past days, there's a lot to talk about when it comes to potential draft targets for all four teams.
The Cleveland Browns May Be Priced Out of the Robert Griffin III Bidding War
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Former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III impressed scouts and the media over the weekend, not just in his press conference but also in his workouts. He ran an official 4.41-second 40-yard dash and though he did not throw, his stock can't possibly get much higher.
That means the St. Louis Rams can wield a tremendous amount of power in the weeks leading up to April's NFL draft.
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The Rams, who have the No. 2 overall pick, are almost certain to trade the pick to a team that has their sights set on Griffin. The Browns were very much in play to make an offer to St. Louis for the pick, but recent developments have made that seem less likely.
First, there was Fox Sports' John Czarnecki's report that the Browns have been sending "weird, uninterested" signals to the Rams about the pick. Czarnecki continues to say that Browns president Mike Holmgren has never orchestrated such an expensive trade, which has him wary, as well as his scouts' reports that liken Griffin to Michael Vick.
Further, it's looking like the Browns' two first-round picks (plus potentially their sixth-rounder) won't be enough to wrest away that No. 2 pick from the Rams.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, who has been in Indy for the combine, has heard rumblings that the Washington Redskins, who don't shy away from paying a mint for a player they want, are the front-runners to get the pick and RG3, adding that it could cost the team as much as their first three draft picks in 2012 as well as their first two in 2013.
The Browns are undergoing a rebuilding of sorts, which requires draft picks. Giving up two or three this year is one thing, but giving up three picks that valuable plus their top two picks in 2013 is extremely expensive and perhaps ultimately just not worth it.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Love DT Dontari Poe, But...
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If there were any questions that Dontari Poe was the draft's top nose tackle prospect, those are pretty much out the window after his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
At 346 pounds, Poe ran the 40 yard dash in an unofficial 4.87 seconds—almost unheard of speed for an athlete of his size—and benched 225 pounds 44 times, the most of any combine invitee this year.
Poe was projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick, but his showing in Indianapolis might have vaulted him into the top 15. If that's true, it's bad news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who most certainly have a nose tackle on their draft wish list for 2012.
Starter Casey Hampton underwent ACL surgery at the end of the season and could begin the year on the PUP list, and he only has one backup behind him, Steve McClendon. Poe declared his admiration for Hampton when speaking to the assembled media on Saturday, further heating up discussion that Poe could be tops on the Steelers' radar.
There are other viable candidates the Steelers could draft to fill their needs at nose tackle should Poe be off the board, so it's not a terrible disappointment if he goes higher than the Steelers' No. 24 first-round pick.
However, Poe once seemed certain to still be available to the Steelers in the first round; now that he's captivated so much attention at the combine, Pittsburgh is just one of many suitors who will be closely examining Poe in the coming weeks and could find themselves out of the sweepstakes.
Could the Cincinnati Bengals Move Up to Draft RB Trent Richardson?
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The Cincinnati Bengals have a ton of options available to them both in free agency and in the draft, which means they can afford to get a bit creative in the next eight weeks.
One area in which the Bengals have serious need is running back. Though I fully expect the team to make a play at a veteran free agent in March (with Michael Bush and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whom the Patriots aren't likely to re-sign, as the best fits), they are also very likely to pick up one in the draft as well.
An option for the Bengals is to trade up to grab running back Trent Richardson, the top draft prospect at the position this year. Depending on the roster needs of the teams above the Bengals, they could quite easily trade up from their No. 17 first-round pick (their first of two picks in that round) to snag him, especially if he moves from a top-five prospect to a top-10 or -12 pick.
That's not impossible to imagine, with a number of defensive players and offensive linemen seeing their stocks rise and the Cleveland Browns not guaranteed to take Richardson fourth overall if they don't make a play to trade up to grab quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Richardson will be very much on the Bengals' mind in the next two months and it's almost certain they'll examine the possibility to trade up to draft him. Whether they do is another thing altogether, but it's clear he'd be a great fit for a team that needs an explosive back like him to round out their already strong passing offense.
The Baltimore Ravens are Thinking About Drafting a Wide Receiver
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At the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the team won't be pursuing any free-agent wide receivers in the coming months, and general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team won't try to sign Mike Wallace out from under the Pittsburgh Steelers when he becomes a restricted free agent in March.
Considering the Ravens need to make some additions to their receiving corps, it's looking like they plan to do so via the draft for the second year in a row.
In 2011, the Ravens picked up receivers Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams; this year, they have a deep class of receivers to choose from, and it's looking possible that's the direction they take with their 29th overall first-round pick.
The top receiving prospects this year, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright, will more than likely be off the board when the Ravens pick, but Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, LSU's Reuben Randall and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery could all be in play for the team late in the first round.
While pass rush seems to be the safest choice for the Ravens in the first round, if any of these wide receivers ultimately stand out to the team, one of them could be their pick.
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