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Sam Farmer's NFL draft preview

Los Angeles Times 21.04.2009 18:48
Sam Farmer's NFL draft preview - AFC - NFC - Football


The Times' pro football writer looks at the draft needs of the teams in the AFC and NFC North divisions.



The draft will be held Saturday and Sunday in New York. The Times' NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines the needs of each team by division:

What do you give a team that has everything? If you're talking about the Steelers, an offensive lineman would be nice. The Super Bowl champions have the last pick in the first round, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The last time Pittsburgh drafted 32nd, in 2006, it traded up to 23 and took Santonio Holmes. The team got Heath Miller at 30 in 2005, and two years earlier traded up from 27 to 16 to snare Troy Polamalu. As for offensive linemen, the Steelers grabbed Kendall Simmons at 30, four years after getting Alan Faneca at 28.

The Ravens had the second-ranked defense last season, but even that finely tuned machine could use some help, especially with linebacker Bart Scott now with the Jets. Baltimore has the 26th pick and could take an inside linebacker, cornerback or defensive end. There's also a need for a sure-handed wide receiver, especially with Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton becoming free agents after this season.

For the sixth time since 2000, the Bengals are picking in the top 10. That's not a point of pride. In their last four drafts, they've taken a defensive player in the opening round. That's likely to change this year, as last season's 32nd-ranked offense needs some serious retooling. Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is gone, so they would be justified in using their No. 6 pick on a receiver, regardless of whether Chad Johnson sticks around.

Do the Browns really have an interest in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, or are they trying to lure someone into trading up to the fifth pick? Either way, while they once seemed to have an embarrassment of riches at the position with Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, they now haveuncertainty. There's some fan pressure to take Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, who figures to go later in the first.


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