The Ravens cannot see into the future despite drafting Alabama standout, linebacker Courtney Upshaw in the second round and news of Pro Bowl LB Terrell Suggs possibly missing all of 2012 with a partially torn Achilles. They drafted RB Bernard Pierce, a Temple product, in the 3rd round. Pierce is a tough runner and will contribute in short-yardage and goal line situations. The Ravens also added depth to a very good defensive back field with CB Asa Jackson and S Christian Thompson. Jackson will have a chance to sit back and learn from starting corners Ladarius Webb, Cary Williams and second year defensive back Jimmy Smith.
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The Bengals, coming off a playoff appearance, added immediate help to their young team starting in the first round with Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick will be expected to step up and become one of the team’s starting cornerbacks. DT Devon Still, a Penn State product, drafted in the second round will also be expected to produce in his first year in the NFL. WR Mohamed Sanu, drafted in the 3rd round out of Rutgers and TE Orson Charles, drafted in the 4th round out of Georgia, will both be expected to improve a passing game that ranked 20th in the NFL with 208 yards per game.
Cleveland selected their starting backfield with their first two picks of the 2012 draft. RB Trent Richardson, University of Alabama, was selected with the 3rd overall pick and 28-year-old QB and Oklahoma State product Brandon Weeden was selected with the 22nd overall pick. Although the Browns have Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace at the quarterback position, the team expects Weeden to start immediately. Although the team took care of some of their offensive needs they failed to draft an adequate wide receiver. After selecting T Mitchell Schwartz, California, in the 2nd round and DT John Hughes, Cincinnati, in the 3rd round they finally drafted WR Travis Benjamin with the 100th overall pick.
The Steelers, seemingly always in the hunt for a playoff spot, spent their 1st round pick on arguably the most polished offensive lineman in the draft, G David DeCastro, QB Andrew Luck’s teammate out of Stanford. They continued upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line in the 2nd round with T Mike Adams out of Ohio State. Adams has been suspended multiple times by the NCAA (5 games in 2011 for selling memorabilia, receiving improper benefits) but with the tight ship that is run in Pittsburgh, PA, it gives him the best chance to take advantage of his talents. In the 5th round, RB/WR/KR/PR Chris Rainey was taken which is a very intriguing pick. His stock dropped this year because the University of Florida floundered. He should stick as a potential Joshua Cribbs-type receiver/running back/returner.
Baltimore thought that they would have more time in bringing LB Courtney Upshaw up to speed with the defense until news hit about Suggs injury. An Achilles injury is one of the more serious leg injuries that requires almost a year to fully recover from. Upshaw will be expected to step up big time and contribute to the linebacking corps in order for the team to be successful.
The Bengals gave rising QB Andy Dalton help with the addition of WR Mohammed Sanu but CB Dre Kirkpatrick will be a welcomed addition to a team that allowed only 185 yards passing to their opponents in 2011, second in the league. Although they gave up huge amounts of rushing yards, Kirkpatrick will give the front seven piece of mind that they do not have to over compensate in coverage.
The Browns leading receiver in 2011, Greg Little, caught 61 balls while being targeted 121 times. Although nobody expects the Browns, a 4-12 team, to satisfy every need they have a glaring weakness at wide receiver despite drafting Travis Benjamin. Josh Cribbs is a very explosive player but he is not the sure-handed, polished wide receiver that the Browns are looking for. A 28-year-old rookie is probably not what the Browns envisioned when they thought about their potential franchise quarterback but that is what they are getting in Brandon Weeden. Maybe he will prove everyone wrong and succeed but his shelf life is only 6-8 years. His progression into NFL quarterback will be easier because of RB Trent Richardson, one of the hardest runners to come out of college. Richardson looks for and demolishes opposing defenses with his strong legs and tough running style.
Again, no splashy picks for this division as most of the tried to satisfy their most glaring needs.