How AFC North Rivalries Will Extend to the 2012 NFL Draft
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The AFC North division features some of the most vicious and historic rivalries in all the NFL and, this year, that bad blood will extend to the draft.
All four teams in the division have overlaps in their needs, starting in the first round and continuing practically until the very end of round seven. It will be quite the battle among those four teams to get the players they want while quietly shaking their fists if a divisional rival snags them up first.
It all started a few months back, when it seemed like Georgia offensive guard Cordy Glenn could fall to any of the four AFC North teams.
In a moment of ironic serendipity, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns could all desperately use the hybrid guard-tackle skills of the projected first rounder, to the point that mock drafts have linked him to each team.
Of course, Glenn's services are in high demand throughout the league; at this point, it could be one of 20 teams who take him in the first round.
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Three of the AFC North teams, the Ravens, Steelers and Browns, all need to build depth on their offensive lines this year, so the fight for talented guards and tackles should continue well until the seventh round wraps on Saturday night.
Linebacker is also an area of contention, though this battle is primarily limited to the Ravens and Steelers.
Both have designs on Alabama's Dont'a Hightower, with the Steelers having the advantage presently simply because they are set to pick before Baltimore. Their consolation prize targets could be the same, as well, with rapidly rising Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin a good fit for both teams.
The Bengals and Browns will likely be angling for similar talent at wide receiver in the first two rounds. In play for both include Baylor's Kendall Wright, Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, LSU's Rueben Randle and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill—to name but a select few.
The Bengals and Steelers could be at odds in round three over Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead. Pead has the tackle-busting speed both teams require to fill out their running back corps.
Much as a football game is a battle of field positioning, this year's draft is a battle of pick positioning between the four AFC North teams. With so many overlapping targets, expect little disappointments and victories to play themselves out within the context of the division, not just within the context of the draft as a whole.
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