Teams looking to meet needs at NFL draft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I’ve got my shopping list, how about you? But don’t meet me at Bartram & Son Grocery. Instead, see me at NFL Draft Central.

If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals or any other team, the Christmas shopping season of the NFL is next Saturday and Sunday with the annual draft.

We’ll be looking at all the merchandise, but we may have to pass on some quality items to purchase those essential needs. And I’m not talking about soap, toilet paper or deodorant.

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It is difficult for some teams to pass over a talented player for an area of need, and sometimes they don’t. That’s what makes the NFL draft so unpredictable and interesting.

So make out your list of needs, then make out your list of wants and prioritize.

The so-called experts list the Bengals No. 1 weakness as defensive tackle. And that is their biggest weakness, but it may not be their biggest need.

Here’s a few names to throw at you: Doug Johnson, Anthony Wright, Craig Krenzel. Not household names as quarterbacks, but that’s the current choices if Carson Palmer is unable to go either at the start of the season or at all.

Palmer is a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. The aforementioned trio are cereal bowl caliber quarterbacks. Would it be shocking for the Bengals to try and trade up to pick a quarterback, even if it’s Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler?

It’s doubtful anyone would trade down to the Bengals No. 24 spot unless they could get several other spots in this draft or the next or both.

The odds are the Bengals will go for defense, even if it’s not a defensive tackle.

The Browns most glaring area of concern is the offensive line. The quarterback spot is OK with Charlie Frye and Trent Dilfer and the skilled positions are excellent, especially when WR Braylan Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow II return.

The defense could use some help, but those needs can be handled in the later rounds. Still, don’t be surprised to see the first pick as Bobby Carpenter or Kamerion Wimbley.

I don’t want to say the Browns offensive line is porous, but rumor has it that they signed a swivel chair to the practice squad just in case they need someone of equal ability in the event of an injury.

Actually, the Browns have made some very good acquisitions in the off-season that have quietly improved the team. If coach Romeo Crennel gets his way in the draft, the Browns should be a much-improved team.

As for my own personal needs, they’re nothing a couple of signing bonuses wouldn’t cure.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.