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NEEDS FILLED — The Ravens were expected to be among the teams addressing the tight end position as early as the first round; they waited until Round 3 but still landed a good one in Ed Dickson, then came back the next round with another value pick at the position in Dennis Pitta.
NEEDS IGNORED — You can’t fault the Ravens for taking a pair of players who fit extremely well into their scheme and were value picks in the second round, LB Sergio Kindle and DT Terrence Cody. However, in a deep safety draft Baltimore was supposed to find an heir for Ed Reed and help at cornerback; instead, the Ravens ignored their secondary entirely.
BEST PICK — Tough to quibble with Kindle at 43, but getting Cody at 57 and dropping him next to Haloti Ngata makes the Ravens extremely thick up front. Guards will have a long way to go and a lot of tackle to fight through to get to Ray Lewis, which in turn will make the Ravens’ defense that much more formidable.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — While it would have cost Baltimore Kindle, had they not traded down and out of the first round they would have had their choice of safeties Nate Allen, TJ Ward, and Taylor Mays. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that GM Ozzie Newsome simply didn’t see them as a suitable replacement for Reed; after all, Newsome’s draft track record is among the best in the league.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Dickson and Pitta will open their Ravens careers behind Todd Heap on the depth chart. However, Heap has a propensity for getting hurt so whichever emerges from training camp as his backup should at minimum remain on the fantasy radar for a potential midseason pickup.
NEEDS FILLED — In first-round pick Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals believe they have a tight end who can contribute both as a blocker and as a middle-of-the-field target for Carson Palmer. The Bengals also added to their wide receiver depth with Jordan Shipley (Round 3) and Dezmon Briscoe (Round 6) and addressed needs along the defensive front seven with DE Carlos Dunlap (Round 2), DT Geno Atkins (Round 4) and LB Roddrick Muckelroy (Round 4).
NEEDS IGNORED — The master plan called for the Bengals to add a middle linebacker to plug in between Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers; unless the plan is for Muckelroy to play the strong side and Maualuga to move to the middle, that box was left unchecked.
BEST PICK — Dunlap was projected to be a first-round pick, but the Bengals picked him up 54 selections into the draft. He should work in as a situational pass-rusher opposite Antwan Odom and, if he lives up to his potential, would provide Cincy with serious bookend pass rushers.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — If the Bengals truly desired a middle linebacker, their best bet would have been skipping Dunlap and snaring Sean Lee, who went to the Cowboys one pick later.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — First round tight ends rarely do anything as a rookie, but you can bet Gresham will pop up on fantasy radars in both dynasty and redraft leagues; given that the Bengals haven’t had a viable fantasy tight end since the Rodney Holman days, best let the kinks get worked out before getting too aggressive there. Shipley could factor into the mix as a slot guy, but both he and Briscoe are at least behind Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant in the wide receiver pecking order.
NEEDS FILLED — It’s as if Mike Holmgren had a shopping list in front of him and was crossing off the items as he went. Secondary help? Check; CB Joe Haden in the first round and safeties T.J. Ward and Larry Asante in the second and fifth, respectively. Between-the-tackles back? Check; Montario Hardesty was still on the board late in the second round so Cleveland moved up to snag him. Quarterback of the future? Check; Colt McCoy fell into Holmgren’s lap in Round 3. The Browns even addressed needs further down the list with OG Shawn Lauvao in the third and WR Carlton Mitchell in the sixth.
NEEDS IGNORED — Maybe Holmgren forgot to turn down the tight end aisle, as the Browns left a draft loaded at the position without having added someone to replace what Kellen Winslow used to give the Cleveland offense.
BEST PICK — Maybe everybody else is right and McCoy is too short to play in the NFL. But given his success at the college level, Holmgren’s track record with quarterbacks, and McCoy’s fit for the Browns’ offensive scheme, to land a potential franchise quarterback with the 85th pick completed a solid first two days for the new Cleveland regime.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — If you’re a Taylor Mays fan you could point to selecting Ward over the USC standout in Round 2, but the fact that after Ward at 38 and Mays at 49 another free safety didn’t go off the board until Major Wright to the Bears at 75 suggests that the Browns got the guy they wanted.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Holmgren has already removed early expectations for McCoy by indicating that Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace will be his quarterbacks in 2010, making Colt a dynasty-league pick only. Hardesty, on the other hand, should move immediately into some sort of job-share with Jerome Harrison — likely as the between-the-tackles, short-yardage, and potentially goal-line back. Though he’s only a sixth-round pick, Mitchell’s path to significant playing time is hardly blocked given that he’s behind the likes of Chansi Stuckey and Brian Robiskie on the depth chart.
NEEDS FILLED — High on the list was protecting their quarterback; while some might say a good lawyer would be the greatest need there the Steelers went another direction in adding Maurkice Pouncey, who should start right away and has an excellent chance of becoming the next great Steelers center. Pittsburgh made its annual selection of a rush linebacker with Jason Worilds in Round 2, then looked to replace Santonio Holmes with third-round pick Emmanuel Sanders. The Steelers didn’t address needs at corner (Crezdon Butler, Round 5) and defensive tackle (Dough Worthington, Round 7) until Day Three, but at least they addressed them.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Steelers didn’t add anything at safety, where Troy Polamalu’s injuries frequently leave the team short-handed. Nor did they get younger at the defensive end position as hoped, though Pittsburgh frequently gets larger contributions from its sophomore class than its first-years and the 2009 draft class was headed by DE Ziggy Hood.
BEST PICK — Pouncey instantly upgrades the Steelers’ offensive line, even if he starts out at guard instead of center. Ultimately, the expectation is that he’ll eventually warrant mention with the likes of Mike Webster, Dermontii Dawson, and Jeff Hartings.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — If it was beef they sought, the Steelers could have backed up Casey Hampton with Terrence Cody in Round 2; instead, Pittsburgh went with Worilds and Cody landed with division-rival Baltimore.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — If Sanders slides into Mike Wallace’s role as third receiver, with Wallace moving outside to replace Santonio Holmes, he could wind up as a sneaky fantasy play in larger leagues. The Steelers’ only other “skill” position draft pick, sixth-round running back Jonathan Dwyer, also has upside with the potential to back up Rashard Mendenhall and maybe even steal some goal line carries.