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Team-by-team draft needs: NFC North and AFC North

The NFL draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines team needs by division. Today, in the third of four parts, the North divisions:

NFC North

The Bears have a few glaring areas of need: receiver, cornerback and edge rusher. There probably isn’t a receiver in this draft worthy of the No. 8 pick, but there are defensive players who fit the bill. Chicago could probably get the best corner prospect at that spot. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would be an intriguing possibility too.

The top two needs for the Lions are pass-rush help and a running back. They also could use a defensive tackle, a cornerback and help in the interior of their offensive line. Boston College defensive end Harold Landry is a versatile option who could line up in multiple spots and probably would be available when the Lions pick at No. 20.

The Packers will be on the lookout for an outside pass rusher and cornerback, and they’re at a good spot at 14 to get either. There’s also a need at wide receiver and tight end, so those are possibilities. If Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds were to tumble out of the top 10, he would be very enticing.

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The Vikings need to bolster their offensive line and are looking for help at defensive tackle, where they have not found a replacement for free agent Sharrif Floyd. Minnesota likes quicker (often undersized) pass rushers. The Vikings might also look for a safety to complement Harrison Smith, and maybe a tight end who’s a better blocker than Kyle Rudolph.

AFC North

The Ravens want to find help for quarterback Joe Flacco, whether in the form of a wide receiver, offensive lineman, or both. They need a field-stretching tight end too. If the best receivers are gone, and the Ravens believe it’s too early to take a tight end, the team might look to bolster its protection up front.

The Browns have two of the first four selections and five of the first 64, so this draft really could help them retool. They need a quarterback, even though newcomer Tyrod Taylor is expected to be their short-term starter. They also need a running back and primary cornerback and must fill the position vacated by retired left tackle Joe Thomas.

The Bengals’ most pressing need is for a left tackle, and they should be able to select one with the 21st pick. Another possibility would be a center to anchor their reworked offensive line. They always seem to be eyeing cornerbacks, so that is a consideration, and so is defensive tackle if a prospect such as Vita Vea were to slip.

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With the loss of Ryan Shazier, the Steelers are looking for an every-down linebacker. The long-term future of running back Le’Veon Bell is still murky, so the Steelers might want to address that at some point in this draft. Pittsburgh could go for a corner in the first round, and there are quality prospects to be had.

NEXT: West divisions.


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