How The AFC North Drafted.
2008 DRAFT: AFC North Opponents
The Ravens came into the draft needing a quarterback, a cornerback and a left tackle — three cornerstones to a winning football team. With the eighth pick of the draft, the Ravens were sure to fill one of those three positions. Instead, they traded down for a poor man’s Vinny Testaverde at QB, projects at tackle, and no cornerbacks out of their 10 picks.
Taking Tavares Gooden instead of Dan Connor in the third may have caused the local Penn State alumni to cringe, but the Ravens took the right player. Gooden may not play the run as well as Connor, but he’s not bad and is a coverage ’backer who’ll play all three downs. Gooden had a first-round grade from some scouts.
The Ravens could have traded a second- and fourth-round pick to move up six spots in the first round and draft Matt Ryan, a proven, winning quarterback. Instead, they panicked and traded down; then, confused, they traded back up for Joe Flacco, a player who didn’t have the fortitude to stay at Pitt and compete with Tyler Palko. Flacco is a draftnik’s dream because of his tools, but watch his poor decision-making and hang-dog posture in the D-1AA title game and you’ll see Vinny Lite.
Steve McNair retired and now the triumvirate of Flacco, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller steps up to replace him. How can a team that judges talent so well at 21 positions be left with nothing more than small-college potential at the most mportant position?
The retirement of Jonathan Ogden leaves an opening for Adam Terry or Jared Gaither to fill. The Baltimore media went overboard in praising the potential of Gaither last season. Well, step up, Jared, because Terry’s too soft for the job and draft picks Oniel Cousins and David Hale need time.
The Ravens drafted some tough guys: Ray Rice, Gooden, Tom Zbikowski, Cousins, Marcus Smith, Hale and Haruki Nakamura. They’d better hopethat Flacco has more toughness in him than he displayed throughout his college career. It takes much more than tools to succeed at QB in the NFL.
nice person.: Quarterback
Ht.: 6-6 • Wt.: 235 • School: Delaware
Round 1: QB Joe Flacco, Delaware (18th overall)
Round 2: RB Ray Rice, Rutgers (55)
Round 3: OLB Tavares Gooden, Miami, Fla. (71);
S Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame (86);
T Oniel Cousins, UTEP (99)
Round 4: WR Marcus Smith, New Mexico (106);
T David Hale, Weber State (133)
Round 5: No choice
Round 6: S Haruki Nakamura, Cincinnati (206)
Round 7: WR Justin Harper, Virginia Tech (215);
RB Allen Patrick, Oklahoma (240)
The Bengals finished 27th in the league defensively and lost four starters in free agency. Yet, the Bengals drafted only two defensive players among their first five picks. They curiously concentrated on receivers, even after turning down a trade of Chad Johnson for two first-round picks. The curious Bengals indeed.
The Bengals allowed their interest in Sedrick Ellis and Derrick Harvey to leak, and other teams moved up and took those players before the Bengals picked ninth. But they regained their composure and took a high-character linebacker in Keith Rivers. He’s not a guy a team can build around, but he’s quality on and off the field.
The theory that the Bengals draft out of magazines went out the window with the selection of Jason Shirley. Even the magazines knew about this guy’s rap sheet. So much for turning around the culture in their clubhouse. The Bengals also drafted Pat Sims, who once quit school, only to return and play when he felt like it.
It was a big offseason for the Bengals. They kept as many free agents as they could, but lost Landon Johnson, Tab Perry, Bryan Robinson, Justin Smith and Madieu Williams. They also released Chris Henry. In return, the Bengals added defensive end Antwan Odom and tight end Ben Utecht.
Does the drafting of Sims and Shirley solve the many problems of their defensive front? The odds— based on the reputations of these players — are that they haven’t. As Jerome Bettis once said, “You can always run on the Bengals.” Well, that doesn’t look to have changed much with this draft.
Throw, throw, throw. The Bengals reached foran interesting prospect — Jerome Simpson — in the second and still took Andre Caldwell and Mario Urrutia later in the draft. The offense, it appears, will once again be trusted to outscore a porous defense. The Bengals also failed to address a running game that was composed of injuryprone backs last season. The front office must have known something about the health of Rudi Johnson, Chris Perry and Kenny Irons. Or maybe they read it in a magazine.
nice person.: Outside linebacker
Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 240 • School: USC
Round 1: OLB Keith Rivers, USC (9th overall)
Round 2: WR Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina (46)
Round 3 : DT Pat Sims, Auburn (77);
WR Andre Caldwell, Florida (97)
Round 4 : T Anthony Collins, Kansas (112)
Round 5: DT Jason Shirley, Fresno State (145)
Round 6: S Corey Lynch, Appalachian State (177);
TE Matt Sherry, Villanova (207)
Round 7: DE Angelo Craig, Cincinnati (244);
WR Mario Urrutia, Louisville (246)
2008 DRAFT: AFC North
The Browns traded away their first-, secondand third-round picks before the draft for QB Brady Quinn, DE Corey Williams and NT Shaun Rogers. That’s not a bad crop. So the Browns added a big thumper of a linebacker and another playmaking tight end in the fourth before drafting projects later on. It actually lines up as a good haulfor the Browns.
Their first-round pick has already earned a redshirt and will be that much ahead of the game. Whether Brady Quinn is ultimately traded or gets his chance in Cleveland, this first-round pick, No.22, is a value pick. Another solid move was trading for Williams, the 27-year-old pass rusher. The Pittsburgh Steelers learned in this draft how hard it is to find 3-4 ends. The Steelers wanted Williams in free agency before he was tagged.
The trade for Rogers may be overkill, but he is a veteran and could help the Browns take the next step this year. But he shouldn’t be counted on for the long haul. The sixth-round projects look good on paper, although Ahtyba Rubin was pushed around at the Hula Bowl and Paul Hubbard hasn’t shown any more than size and speed.
Aside from the aforementioned trades, the Browns let DLs Ethan Kelley, Ted Washington and Orpheus Roye go. CB Leigh Bodden was thrown into the Williams trade. The Browns also lost LBs Matt Stewart and Chaun Thompson. They added G Rex Hadnot and WR Donte Stallworth.
It’ll be more of the same with Jamal Lewis. He provides carries, if not an occasional breakaway run, but he’s not a threat. And there’s not much behind him. This position could be the flaw of an otherwise contending team and must be addressed early next year.
The Browns are getting there. The defensive line will be much-improved with a big rookie having a chance to learn. The receiving corps was bolstered by Rucker, and perhaps Hubbard the deep threat someday. The linebacking corps has a big boy now. The Browns are a running back away.
nice person.: Inside linebacker
Ht.: 6-1 • Wt.: 245 • School: UNLV
Round 1: None
Round 2: None
Round 3: None
Round 4: ILB Beau Bell, UNLV (104th overall);
TE Martin Rucker, Missouri (111)
Round 5: None
Round 6: DT Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa State (190);
WR Paul Hubbard, Wisconsin (191)
Round 7: OLB Alex Hall, St. Augustine’s (231)