Draft capsules for teams in the AFC North


By The Associated Press



Could Ezekiel Elliott land on an AFC North team like Cleveland or Baltimore?


John Swartzel | News Journal File

Draft capsules for AFC North teams:

6. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-11)

LAST SEASON: Decimated by injuries and plagued by close losses (nine by eight points or fewer), Ravens staggered through their worst season since 2007. Top draft pick Breshad Perriman (knee) was lost in training camp, linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon) fell in opener and Baltimore ultimately finished without quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Justin Forsett and left tackle Eugene Monroe.

THEY NEED: Pass-rushing OLB, DL, OL, CB.

THEY DON’T NEED: QB, TE, S, P, PK.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis; OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame; DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon; LB Miles Jack, UCLA.

OUTLOOK: Ravens can’t count on Suggs to be fully recovered from his injury. So, after ranking 17th with 37 sacks last season, Baltimore desperately needs pass rusher. GM Ozzie Newsome always claims to grab best player on board, and in this case Bosa or Buckner should fit that description. If both are gone, then Stanley could be selected to replace departed free agent Kelechi Osemele.

8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13)

LAST SEASON: A typical disappointment. Browns lost 10 of last 11 games and made yet another coaching change as Mike Pettine was fired after two seasons. Quarterback Josh McCown sustained concussion in opener, forcing team to play Johnny Manziel, who continued to be season-long headache because of off-the-field antics. Cleveland’s defense failed to live up to expectations and was hurt by Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden missing most of year. Offense lacked playmakers and imagination.

THEY NEED: QB, WR, LB, S — everything.

THEY DON’T NEED: Another bad draft.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Myles Jack, UCLA; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame; CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida.

OUTLOOK: Not enthralled with either Goff or Wentz, Browns traded down with Philadelphia, swapping spots in first round and acquiring four more picks, including first-rounder in 2017. Thay bold move means Browns have confidence QB Robert Griffin III can hold them over for a year or two or possibly become long-term starter. After losing six starters in free agency, there are holes galore and it won’t be possible to fill them all in one swoop. As in past two seasons, Browns need playmakers — on both sides.

24. CINCINNATI BENGALS (12-5)

LAST SEASON: Tied franchise record with 12 wins — only third time any Bengals team had done that — and lost in opening round of playoffs for fifth straight season, an NFL record. With playoff game in hand, they gave it away, helping Steelers get in range for winning field goal with personal foul penalties on LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Adam “Pacman” Jones. Both return this season, although Burfict got three-game suspension. Coach Marvin Lewis got rewarded with extra year on his contract, which now runs through 2017. It’s third year in row he got extension after first-round playoff loss. QB Andy Dalton had breakthrough season, but broke passing thumb in December and missed rest of season. AJ McCarron played well in his absence. Dalton is expected to make full recovery.

THEY NEED: S, CB, OL, RB.

THEY DON’T NEED: QB, P, K.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame. WR Josh Doctson, TCU.

OUTLOOK: Bengals lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu — their No. 2 and No. 3 receivers — in free agency and signed WR Brandon LaFell. Replenishing receiver group is priority for their West Coast offense. They spent most of offseason trying to keep NFL’s second-stingiest defense intact, but lost starting S Reggie Nelson. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson went to Cleveland as head coach, and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese was promoted to role. Otherwise, team is intact from last season and ready to try for sixth straight playoff appearance and first postseason win since 1990 season.

25. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-7)

LAST SEASON: Steelers dealt with series of injuries to bold-faced names, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey, to make playoffs for second straight year before bowing out to eventual Super Bowl champion Denver in divisional round. Wide receiver Antonio Brown remained one of biggest bargains in league, setting NFL record for most receptions over three-year span and spinning his fame into gig on “Dancing With The Stars.” Defense gave up yards but also got to quarterback and created turnovers under first-year coordinator Keith Butler, though there will be considerable turnover in secondary and defensive line.

THEY NEED: CB, S, DL.

THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, OL.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: CB Eli Apple, Ohio State; CB Artie Burns, Miami, CB William Jackson III, Houston, DT Andrew Billings, Baylor.

OUTLOOK: Steelers haven’t taken cornerback in first round since grabbing Chad Scott with 24th overall pick in 1997. That streak should come to an end. Pittsburgh finished 30th in pass defense and did little to look for help in free agency. Safety is an issue too, with Mike Mitchell in search of responsible running mate that can allow him to go make big plays. Defensive front needs help, too, after Steve McLendon left for Jets and Cam Thomas wasn’t re-signed. Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are two of better ends in league, but need big body to plug up middle. Third-year player Dan McCullers remains project at nose tackle, making someone such as Billings attractive.

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Could Ezekiel Elliott land on an AFC North team like Cleveland or Baltimore?
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_OSU.elliott.jpgCould Ezekiel Elliott land on an AFC North team like Cleveland or Baltimore? John Swartzel | News Journal File

By The Associated Press

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