NFL Draft

Which AFC North Team Needs the Best Class in 2012 NFL Draft?

The Cleveland Browns have 13 picks in this year's draft—and need every one of them.
The Cleveland Browns have 13 picks in this year's draft—and need every one of them.Larry French/Getty Images
Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVApril 16, 2012

As a whole, the AFC North has the most draft picks of any division this year, with a total of 40 between the four teams.

All four teams also have a significant number of needs this year despite three of them reaching the playoffs last season. Each squad would greatly benefit from picking up as many impact players as possible, but for one, it's a make-or-break draft with reverberations that will be felt for seasons to come.

That would be the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have 13 picks this year, and they need every one of them. Ideally, they need every one of them to be ringers, but even if six or seven players that they bring on this year end up making a positive impact, then this draft could be considered a success.

The Cincinnati Bengals need help in the secondary and should be adding both a wide receiver and running back this year, as well as some additional pieces on the offensive line. The Pittsburgh Steelers need additions at linebacker, offensive line and defensive line. The Baltimore Ravens need a guard (or someone who can play both guard and center), a receiver and at least one linebacker.

Cleveland has more needs—and more of them immediate—than any other team in the division. If they draft well this year, they could actually have a shot at building the playoff-caliber roster that they've been hoping to field for seasons.

Comparatively, the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals will all be in good shape, even if their draft classes this year don't pan out to be all that fruitful.

Of course, things won't go as well as planned for any of those teams this year if their drafts aren't strong, but if the Browns fall on their faces, it's going to represent such a huge step backward that they'll have to embark on another five-year rebuild all over again.

So, for Cleveland, this draft carries far more weight and is much more high-pressure than for any other team in the AFC North. Thirteen picks allows them to be creative and to fill their many needs, to be sure, but they also represent 13 chances to make a mistake—each one more costly than the next.

 

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