Breaking down our NFL Draft

Michael Moses

With the NFL Draft beginning tomorrow night, sports columnist Michael Moses takes a look at the biggest needs of the three local teams — The Browns, Steelers and Bengals — to see who fans will be cheering for (or against) in September.


1st round selection: #7

10 total picks

The Brownies will never be a contender in the mighty AFC North without a quarterback. Rumors have been thrown around about trading up for the No. 1 overall pick to select Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. This would be a perfect time to select a highly touted quarterback such as Bradford since a proven veteran, Jake Delhomme, is now in town to mentor the young man. Bradford has every physical tool a franchise quarterback should have, is incredibly accurate and has a strong head on his shoulders. Tim Tebow, on the other hand, would be a strong pick in the later rounds. It might be a gamble but could pay off. Tebow is a proven leader on the field and has a Jesus-in-cleats approach off it. Plus, Tebow is a winner. What more does a losing team need?

Some believe the Browns should look to improve the team right away instead of investing into another project. If that’s the case, they should select Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, hands down. He is the most talented wide receiver in the draft by far and has incredible athletic ability. Cleveland has a solid running game with Jerome Harrison, James Davis, Chris Jennings and the newly acquired Peyton Hillis. A receiver to bail out Delhomme’s errant throws would help.

As every Browns fan knows, there is one player the team has been interested in all along, and that’s Tennessee free safety Eric Berry. The big question is if he is still going to be on the board. If Cleveland can come away with him, their draft would be a success even if they completely Tim Couched it the rest of the way.


1st round selection: #18

11 total draft picks

One thing is for certain: The Steelers are going to shake up the draft in one way or another. With Ben Roethlisberger trade rumors swirling around, it could mark the first time in as long as I can remember that a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback gets traded during his prime. I’m a diehard Steelers fan, and I could care less if he goes. Quarterback would be the obvious position to fill if that is the case. But let’s say Big Ben is wearing black and gold next year. First and foremost, the Steelers should protect him. Go offensive line. Florida center Maurkice Pouncey would be key, but, of course, if some of the bigger names are left on the board, such as offensive tackles Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and Russell Okung (Oklahoma State), these would override the Pouncey selection.

With the sudden departure of wide receiver Santonio Holmes, receiver is still not an immediate slot to fill. Veterans Hines Ward, Antwaan Randel El and Arnaz Battle are a solid crew to complement emerging star Mike Wallace and the project of the decade, Limas Sweed. There is, of course, one major exception (as stated above) — Dez Bryant. If he’s there at #18, it’s a steal. Imagine this line up in a few years — Dez Bryant, Mike Wallace and Limas (please play like you did at Texas) Sweed.

Improving the secondary is a must in this year’s draft for the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranked 16th against the pass last year, all while All-World free safety Troy Polamalu was sidelined with an injury. With current free safety Ryan Clark aging (9 NFL seasons), a dream of having a pair of USC safeties for the Steelers could become reality. Taylor Mays, the second ranked free safety in the draft, would be a perfect fit for the Steelers. He’s a big (6’3, 230 pounds), fast (4.43 40 yard dash), hard-hitting safety that would go along with Polamalu perfectly. Learning from a defensive mind like Troy wouldn’t be bad thing for the kid.


1st round selection: #21

9 total draft picks

The Bengals had a phenomenal 2009 campaign, only to get upset by the New York Jets in the playoffs. One of the top concerns for Cincy has to be the lack of receiver depth. Picking at #21 almost surely throws out Dez Bryant. Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas (raw) or Notre Dame’s Golden Tate (undersized, but freak athlete) would be a nice fit for the Bengals aerial attack. In later rounds, if receiver is still an issue, why not stay local? In the Bengals back yard, Mardy Gilyard is looking to pick up where he left off as a Cincinnati Bearcat. Gilyard would also be able to boost the Bengals’ return game.

Tight end also needs some attention. Jermaine Grisham, Oklahoma’s tight end and ranked #1 in the draft class in his respective position, should be available at #21. If not, the team could look for someone such as Jimmy Graham (Florida) in the second round. A physical specimen, Graham stands at 6’6” and 260 pounds and also runs a 4.53 40-yard dash. Dorin Dickerson (Pitt), is a tad undersized at 6’2” and 226 pounds, but makes up with that with his blinding speed (4.40 in the 40).

Other than receivers in this year’s draft, the Bengals need to build for the future. It’s safe to say that Carson Palmer is injury prone by now, and at 30 years old, isn’t exactly a spring chicken. A solid backup quarterback would be nice. Levi Brown (Troy) is on the rise and has many of the same attributes Palmer has. At 6’4” and 229 pounds, Brown is big. His 4,254 yards passing last season were second in the nation. Brown will be around in the middle rounds, and Cincinnati should highly consider him.

Contact sports columnist Michael Moses at [email protected].