Let’s take a look at some notes from around the AFC North and NFC South as the draft draws ever closer:
- The Browns were expected to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick even after signing Robert Griffn III, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes that the Rams’ leapfrogging Cleveland to take the No. 1 overall selection should not change that. Regardless of whether Los Angeles selects Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, Cabot believes the Browns should simply take whichever player is still on the board, as both have franchise quarterback potential.
- The Steelers have not drafted a cornerback in the first round since 1997, and as Mark Kaboly of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review observes, no team has gone longer without drafting a first-round CB; indeed, half the league picked a corner in the first round during the past five years alone. But with a shaky secondary and as many as six corners with first-round potential in this year’s draft class–all of whose pro days were attended by the Steelers–2016 could be the year that Pittsburgh finally breaks that streak, injecting some much-needed talent in its defensive backfield in the process.
- Another AFC North club is on the lookout for cornerback help, and as Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com writes, the fact that Virginia Tech corner Kendall Fuller had a positive medical recheck on his injured right knee is great news for the Ravens. Baltimore assistant GM Eric DeCosta believes there will be a run on corners between the 25th and 40th overall picks, and a healthy Fuller projects to be drafted in that range. If the Ravens do not draft Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves III with their No. 6 overall selection, they will certainly be in the market for a CB with the No. 36 overall choice.
- Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer attempts to decipher what the Panthers‘ offseason moves say about their draft intentions, noting that while GM Dave Gettleman checked a number of boxes this offseason, he did not address all of his team’s needs. For instance, although Charles Johnson will return on a team-friendly one-year deal, Person believes 2016 will be Johnson’s last season in Charlotte, which means that a young, disruptive pass rusher like Clemson’s Kevin Dodd might be a good selection for the club with its 30th overall pick. And, since Carolina did not bring back Roman Harper and may be a little reluctant to hand a starting safety job to Tre Boston, the team may elect to nab a safety like Vonn Bell or Jayron Kearse on Day 2 of the draft. Given that there is little cornerback depth behind Josh Norman–who may also be playing his last year in Charlotte–a corner might also be a high-round target for the club.
- Taking a page out of the Rams’ and Cardinals’ playbooks, the Falcons are searching for safety-linebacker hybrids that are strong against the run but who can also cover running backs and tackle in the open field, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. To that end, Atlanta has visited and/or had private workouts with players like Su’a Cravens, Keanu Neal, and Deion Jones, whose physical tools are similar to those of Los Angeles’ Mark Barron and Arizona’s Deone Bucannon.
- The Buccaneers need to improve their pass rush, and they addressed that need to some degree in free agency by signing defensive end Robert Ayers. But as Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht observes, Malik Jackson and Sylvester Williams proved last year that an interior defensive lineman is often just as valuable to jump-starting a team’s flagging pass rush unit (article via Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times). As such, an interior lineman like Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins and Mississippi’s Robert Nkemdiche may be just as intriguing to Licht as ends like Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence and Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah.