Not too long ago the AFC North was the playground of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens and sometimes the Cincinnati Bengals. If you were a Bengals fan there were just enough good times to keep hope alive that a championship season could be on the horizon. But injuries, failed draft picks and an inability to keep their cool under pressure derailed a promising run in the mid 2010’s that have left the Cincinnati franchise with more questions than answers.
A trip up I-71 will now find a re-energized fan base in Cleveland. The years of wasted high draft picks on quarterbacks with sketchy resumes and playing with other teams’ cast offs are a thing of the past. The Browns now believe they have a winner at the quarterback position. They have top flight talent at key positions across their roster. Offensively, they have playmakers that make this an offense that could be force in the AFC and a defense that has players that will cause opponents many problems throughout the upcoming season.
The NFL draft begins Thursday evening in Nashville with all 32 teams looking to strengthen their rosters. Cincinnati holds the 11th overall selection and the word from the Bengal brain trust is that they are looking for the best available player. As bad as the defense performed in 2018 it is hard to imagine that Cincinnati does not come out of this pick without someone to help that porous unit. There have however been some rumblings that new head coach Zac Taylor may want to start his new regime in the Queen City with a new signal caller of his own and the Bengals may be looking at a quarterback at this slot.
The Browns enter this draft thanks to their wheeling and dealing without a draft pick until number 49, the 17th pick in round two. General Manager John Dorsey would not be shy about jumping into the draft if there were a player he thought would help Cleveland that could be acquired at a good price. The Browns are looking for the best available talent. New head coach Freddie Kitchens inherits a talented roster that’s goal is to add depth across the board.
This draft finds both Ohio franchises at a crossroads. Cincinnati must find immediate defensive help in this draft if they are to be competitive in the AFC North this season. If they miss on these picks the Bengals may well be on their way to another disappointing season and with an aging offense another year closer to the window closing of them being competitive in the division.
If Cleveland can hit on players in this draft the Browns may well be setting themselves up to dominate this division for several years to come. They have the star power and now are looking to add depth to construct the type of roster that has not been seen in Cleveland for many years.