Over the past couple weeks we have covered five of the eight divisions in the NFL regarding everyone’s team needs. We’ve seen the most polarized division in the NFC East, the best division in the NFC West, the worst division in the NFC South, the most improved division in the AFC East, and a division in the AFC South that is currently ruled by a team from the north in the Indianapolis Colts. Today, we will be going over the closest division in football from 1st to last, the division where only 4 games separated the last place team from 1st, the division where it’s last place team almost got to .500 at 7-9, today we’ll be going over the AFC North Team Needs.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens played better than I expected last year. They didn’t win the division, but they did make the playoffs, win one game, and should have won against the team that went on to win the Superbowl, the New England Patriots. Justin Forsett was their breakout star and Flacco had a solid year. I didn’t like their playcalling and since they don’t have too many needs, they may just be a couple different playcalls from being in the Superbowl. However, they do need to fill two holes particularly:
Wide Receiver – After losing Torrey Smith to the 49ers and now having a 36 year old Steve Smith as their #1, the Ravens definitely need to find another starter and weapon on the outside for Joe Flacco.
Tight End – Dennis Pitta is coming off yet another hip surgery and his career is now in doubt. There aren’t too many great TEs in the draft but the demand for them isn’t that high around the league.
Cincinnati Bengals – I had very high hopes for the Bengals last year. I even selected them to represent the AFC in the Superbowl. However, as they have been prone to do lately, as their fans know, they were a completely disappointment when playoff time came around. They are starting to run out of excuses and maybe a year from some drastic moves being made. They have to fix their offensive line and a couple of the holes from that line are in their team needs below:
Center – A lot of the blame get placed on Dalton for this team, but pressure up the middle bothers even the elite QBs. Bengals need to find a replacement for Russell Bodine.
Left Tackle – Andrew Whiteworth is a good tackle, but at age 33, he would be better suited on the right side now. They need to draft a future stud LT for their future.
Defensive Tackle – I have always respected Domata Peko as a player, but he wasn’t good last year. Some insurance needs to be drafted in case they get a repeat performance.
Cleveland Browns – One of the biggest surprises last year was how the Browns played. I think it is was a huge feather in the cap for the coaching staff that you have Brian Hoyer starting without Josh Gordon for most of the year, rookie RBs, and the loss of Jordan Cameron for most of the year, but still finished 7-9. However, the question is not can they do it again? They have a long list of holes to fill on both offense and defense, starting at the top with their starting QB:
Quarterback – I said it last year that I would not trust taking a 1st round pick on Johnny Manziel, so far I’m right. Even with them signing Josh McCown, I still think they need to get a future QB in there soon.
Wide Receiver – I can write a whole article on what a disappointment Josh Gordon is. Because of his off field issues, he cannot be trusted. They must move on and get a new #1 WR.
Tight End – They lost Jordan Cameron this offseason to Miami. Even though they learned to play without him, due to injury, last year, a QB still needs a TE as his safety blanket.
Right Tackle – Lot of speculation that with one of the Browns two 1st round picks, they take a RT so they can move Mitchell Schwartz to guard.
Inside Linebacker – The Browns have high hopes for 2nd year ILB Christian Kirksey, but Karlos Dansby is 33 and getting a little long in the tooth.
Pittsburgh Steelers – I’ll be the 1st to admit, I did not think the Steelers would be that good, not to mention win the division. Ben Roethlisberger once again had a great year, which will add to his hall of fame credentials. He had back to back games in the middle of the year with six TDs in each with no INTs. He threw for almost 5000 yards and 32 TDs with only 9 INTs. He carried the team on his wide shoulders and covered up a lot of holes below:
Outside Linebacker – With Jason Worild retiring at age 25 out of nowhere, the Steelers are left with just 37 year old James Harrison as their only pass rusher. This is a must have by day two of the draft.
Cornerback – William Gay played well last year, but Ike Taylor was horrible. Taylor’s career maybe done and the Steelers need to find another defender on the outside.
Safety – Both Mike Mitchell and long-time great Troy Polamalu were horrible in the secondary last year. Mitchell has an excuse due to the groin injury, but with Pittsburgh hoping that Polamalu just retires, they need their future Mr. Do Everything Centerfielder.
Right Tackle – The only big weak spot on the Steelers offensive line is at RT. They will most like take a RT in rounds 2 or 3.
Overall this division was the toughest in the AFC and had three representatives in the NFL playoffs, which is the most you can have. All of the teams have holes, but all seemed to overcome them to be successful. With all the rule changes and everything that the NFL does to help offenses, this seems to be the division that still plays old school football. No matter who you are playing in this division, you’re going to feel sore the week after. It’s the type of football that if you are an old school football fan like me, you just love to watch.
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